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Fulton baseball wants to compete with experienced, inexperienced players

by Robby Campbell | March 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Fulton's Dusty Hagens winds up to throw a pitch on March 15, 2022, in the South Callaway Jamboree at South Callaway High School in Mokane. (Fulton Sun/Jeremy Jacob)

Fulton baseball returns 10 players from last season's team and has some underclassmen looking to step up this season.

One Hornet who has already stepped up and is a leader for the team is Dusty Hagens. Last season, Hagens pitchers 46 1/3 innings and went 3-6 with a save while striking out 76 and recording a 2.11 ERA.

Hagens's campaign was good enough to earn him all-conference and all-district honors.

"Dusty Hagens is a top-notch pitcher and fielder with an above-average arm; we will look for his leadership and abilities daily for the program," Fulton coach Jacob Lorentzen said.

Another senior pitcher who could have a solid season is Walker Gohring, who has been a leader for each of the Fulton sports teams he's on. Walker pitched 21 innings and went 2-0 with 28 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA.

"Looked good this summer and is also a proven leader," Lorentzen said of Walker.

While those two are Fulton's leaders, Lorentzen mentioned, "We have a good group of sophomores that are eager to get more time and contribute."

There may be a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen on the Hornets' team, but they're returning 243-of-600 at-bats from last season from nine players.

"I'd say that's not bad for a team that had nine seniors last year," Lorentzen said.

On the contrary, Ethan Milius was a Fulton player with not much playing team last season -- only pitched one inning, allowing no runs and no hits -- but is looking to excel this season.

"Ethan Milius is one of a few sophomores that I think will really step up this year," Lorentzen said. "He has gotten taller and stronger. Loves the game of baseball."

Milius isn't the only one who is fond of the sport; Lorentzen believes he has a team of players who are.

"Our strength really is our core; we have boys that love baseball that want to work hard and still have fun doing that," Lorentzen said. "They don't like to lose, and it's the next guy up for us. We are trying to build a 'move it to the next guy mentality.'"

That mentality could help Fulton go for the North Central Missouri Conference title this season. Last season, the Hornets went 5-4 in the NCMC and tied for second with Kirksville; Hannibal won the title, going 8-2.

While Marshall may have gone 4-6 in the NCMC, another team will be chasing the conference championship, as it placed fourth in the Class 4 state tournament last season.

"Last season, we had our chances; we took care of business versus the top teams but also gave up some games that we should have won," Lorentzen said. "I have all aspirations this year of competing for the top spot in the conference. We know it's not going to be easy; all teams in our conference, I feel, are getting better and more competitive, but we are hungry."

The Hornets' focus in the regular season may be winning the conference, but there are also some nonconference and tournament games to watch.

"Our tournament we have hosted for years hasn't been the same the past years due to weather, so Southern Boone has kinda taken that over; it's bittersweet," Lorentzen said. "Our nonconference schedule is pretty tough; a few teams that always seem to be in our district, some local good talents; it's going to be fun."

Fun is what Fulton wants to have, along with competing. But Lorentzen also emphasizes support from Hornets fans.

"I just want Fulton fans to come out support the boys with their black and gold this year," Lorentzen said.

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