Since 2003, Carmi White County baseball and softball has enjoyed unprecedented success. Both sports’ all time winningest coaches remain at the helm for their 14th seasons this year. Baseball Coach Craig Winter and Softball Coach Scott Conner previewed their schedules for the Carmi Kiwanis Club Thursday.
Coach Winter talked about his pride and passion, not only in his baseball program, but in the history of the program. Carmi baseball began in 1951 and didn’t begin to play more than 10 games in a season until around 1970, making the all time win count of 681 all the more impressive. Bulldog baseball teams have won 25 regionals, 6 sectionals and appeared in 5 state tournaments. For comparison purposes, the only southern Illinois team with more regional titles is Harrisburg with 27. Only Teutopolis and DuQuoin with 14, Harrisburg with 9, and Eldorado with 6 have more sectional championships. Before Winter, Bulldog Baseball was coached by Ken Hurt, John McDougal, John Evers, Jessie Newton, Carl Justice, Tom Mears, Don Garrett, Brad Lee and Jim Thompson.
The 2016 baseball team is coming off back to back regional championships. The team will feature 7 seniors, 2 juniors and several quality sophomores Winter thinks will compete for playing time. He looks to win a conference championship, a third straight regional and wants to make a deep run into the postseason, but says he guarantees his team will take it one pitch at a time.
As impressive as Winter’s baseball accomplishments, Coach Scott Conner’s softball spoils are maybe even more dominating. Conner is being assisted this season by Cindy Coleman and Chris Lucas and is excited to have his team playing on the new Archie Brown Memorial Field. Hand in hand with the new field, Conner also praised the Big Mister Practice HQ for assisting the girls in practicing their softball swings.
Carmi White County Lady Bulldog softball will feature 14 players and 3 seniors including Kaylea Chappelle who’s already committed to play college softball at St. Louis University. The team has only lost 2 seniors from a regional winning team and expectations are high once again.
Conner elaborated on how proud he was that CWC has been able to build a program that gives girls the opportunity to not only be successful here, but potentially get college paid for through scholarships. Currently, former Bulldog softball players competing at college include Bailey Winters at Wabash Valley, Kelsey Rogers at John A. Logan, Jerrica Money at Rend Lake, Alexa Combs is at UT-Martin. In addition to Chappelle’s commitment to SLU, junior Morgan Combs has already verbally committed to UT-Martin.
Both coaches expect Johnston City to be their biggest competition for conference championships this year. Both teams kick off their seasons on March 19th. Jason Craig will be anchoring coverage of Carmi White County baseball and softball on 97.3 WRUL and online this year. The schedule and games set for broadcast will be listed on the sports page of WRUL.com prior to the season’s start.