Nixa’s 14-0 start to this season has seen the Eagles put up 134 runs, or an average of more than nine runs a game.
A year ago when Nixa started 10-1, the Eagles plated 116 runs over their first 14 games. Three years ago when Nixa started 13-1, the Eagles scored 120 runs in their first 14 games.
All numbers aside, senior catcher Jaret Nelson feels the most telling distinction between Nixa’s current outfit and Eagles teams of the past is actually immeasurable. He points to this team’s enthusiasm as the best he’s been a part of.
“The energy and atmosphere we have throughout the players is really good,” said Nelson, who was an all-state catcher as a junior last year and a designated hitter as a freshman three years ago. “That carries to the plate. When you come out of the dugout and the dugout is really hyped, you're really ready to hit.
“Last year, we didn't have as much intensity in the dugout,” he added.
First-year coach Logan Hughes credits his players for taking ownership and establishing a culture centered on enthusiasm.
“We've got a good group of guys who want to be part of a good team,” Hughes said. “They pick each other up. That's been fun to proud of.”
Ask Hughes what he is most proud of a few weeks into his tenure at Nixa and his response is the unselfishness he’s seen in his players.
“The idea of being a good teammate,” Hughes answered. “Everyone is yelling. The guys on the bench who haven't been playing have been incredible with their energy. There's no pouting. It doesn't matter if we just gave up a five-run inning, you come back in our dugout and there's huge energy and guys are cheering for each other.”
The Eagles have shown exceptional resilience and certainly no signs of complacency.
“We're 0-0 every day,” Nelson said.
“We're focused every day on going 1-0 every time we're on the yard,” Hughes said. “You can't really focus on anything more than that or else the game gets ahead of you. Everybody is excited to win and they want to compete every single day.
“They understand how good we can be and want to bring that same energy every day,” he added. “We also harp a lot on staying in the moment. If we give up five runs, that’s over and now we've got to go out and try to do our job on offense and answer back.”
Upon the abrupt and controversial resignation of coach Jason Daugherty after an 18-8 finish last season. many Eagles players past and present voiced their support for him. With Daugherty loyalists in Nixa’s dugout, Hughes entered a delicate situation.
It hasn’t taken him long to win over his players.
“It's one of those things, 'You can either buy in or not play,’” Nelson said. “I feel everyone has bought in. It's hard not to buy in, anyway, because coach sells a good program. He's a hard man not to follow. Everyone is on his ship and we're cruising along.”