Since Shawnee’s semifinal ouster from the 2011 state baseball tournament, head coach Todd Boyer’s tool of choice has been a shovel.

Since Shawnee’s semifinal ouster from the 2011 state baseball tournament, head coach Todd Boyer’s tool of choice has been a shovel.

“We had a lot of holes to fill,” said Boyer, beginning his sixth year at the Wolfpack helm and his 21st overall coaching year at Shawnee.

Boyer and his coaching staff — David Rolette, Ryan Cameron and Matt Pierce — lost five of their top nine players from last season’s 24-16 squad that concluded the campaign with the state tourney loss to Tulsa Kelley.

Returning starters in 2012 are designated hitter/right fielder Casey Bowlan; center fielder Jared Hazelwood; third baseman Logan Russell; and second baseman Spencer Berry. Hazelwood is switching over from left field and Berry just finished the basketball season.

As a sophomore, Bowlan drew 52 at-bats while hitting .346, the fifth-best average on the team. Of his 18 hits, two were doubles to go along with one triple and one home run

Berry finished at .309 with Hazelwood at .306 and Russell at .304. Hazelwood accumulated 10 doubles, second on the squad to Cooper Ansell’s 15.

Of the other positions left vacant by graduation, Boyer said, “We have several guys that got to split some time last year. We feel good about the situation.”

Other players penciled in for starting duty in Thursday’s opener at McGuinness are catcher Josh Rolette, first baseman Phillip Langley, shortstop Kyler Rogers and left fielder Patrick Factor.

Rolette is one of three freshmen listed on the varsity roster.

“Jared and Phillip have shown capabilities of being big run producers,” Boyer said. “Casey has done a good job at the leadoff spot.”

Junior Tim Perkins, who was brought up to the varsity right before last year’s regional, and Russell currently head the pitching staff.

“They are probably our top two pitchers right now,” Boyer said. “Timmy has good command of his pitches and can throw three or four pitches for strikes. He is very competitive.

“Logan is sure and steady. He doesn’t walk too many people and he has a very good changeup.”
Perkins delivered a big state tournament victory over Carl Albert.

Russell was 4-0 with a 2.00 earned run average in 28 innings in 2011. Perkins, in 30 innings, fashioned a 4-2 record with a 2.80 ERA.

Bowlan, a middle-inning reliever last season, and Langley will likely comprise the rest of the four-man rotation.

“Although we lost some starters, I have confidence in our returners,” Boyer said. “They have worked very hard.

“For the most part, I think we will play good defense and pitch well. There is a new bat standard that came down from the national federation. There should be a lot of low-scoring games because the bats are not as lively as in the past.”

Shawnee’s season opener Thursday and its home opener Friday — also against McGuinness — will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Shawnee has captured regional tournament titles in 10 of the past 13 years with 2002, 2008 and 2010 being the exceptions