Hardy Dougan and seemingly every Nixa pitcher and hitter has responded well to the change of coaching staffs for the Eagles.
Dougan was among many Nixa players who were loyal to former Eagles coach Jason Daugherty and his assistants. He worked well with former Nixa pitching coach Clint Longwell, who headed to Blue Springs South after Daugherty’s resignation last year.
“We had a close relationship,” Dougan said of he and Longwell, who was with the Eagles for five years. “We talked a lot and he helped me whenever I needed it.”
Under new pitching coach Michael York, Dougan recorded the pitching staff’s sixth shutout on the season in Nixa’s 15-0, three-inning whipping of Lebanon on Thursday.
Dougan one-hit the Yellowjackets.
Dougan and staff ace Keith Piepmeier have thrived under York. The Eagles (30-3) enter Districts on Monday having allowed three runs or less in 19 games. They are 19-0 in those contests.
“Coach York has showed me the importance of first-pitch strikes and how walks change games,” Dougan said. “He relates to how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking. He's been more about mechanics, that’s what I needed.
“It’s been awesome to get new looks, that's always great,” he added. “I got to hear what they saw that maybe somebody else didn't see. That helped me a ton.”
Dougan enters Districts with a 7-0 W-L record. Over 41.2 innings, he has struck out 44 and walked 18 and owns a 2.52 ERA.
Piepmeier is 6-0 with a 0.85 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 0.85 ERA in 40 innings.
Nixa’s team ERA is 3.02 and the Eagles have 200 strikeouts and 115 walks in 208.2 innings.
York, a Drury outfielder during his playing days, has made quite a splash in his first year coaching at the high school level.
“The sky is the limit with him and we're excited to have him,” coach Logan Hughes said. “He works hard with the guys and spends a lot of time with them daily working on their mechanics. He respects all of our guys and I think all of our guys respect him because of how he treats them. That's why they're buying in to what we want to do.”
Hughes notes Nixa doesn’t boast any fireballers who can simply blow pitches by hitters.
“We have guys who don't throw extremely hard,” Hughes said. “We have guys who have to pitch. They have to throw a curve ball on hitter's counts and throw 2-0 changeups, We have to pitch backward at times. We have to pitch in the strike zone early. Coach York has done a good job getting our guys to buy into that. Our pitching has been incredible.”
Nixa travels to Joplin for Class 6 District 6 play at 11 a.m. Monday against Springfield Central.