Ozark baseball

The Midwest Nationals' Blake Mozley takes a lead from second base ahead of Queen City Crush shortstop Kit Cawley on Sunday.

Blake Mozley isn’t allowing himself to think about the possibility of landing the starting shortstop job at Missouri State as a true freshman. Likewise, his focus isn’t on him and fellow Ozark grad Carson Shaver continuing to contend the Show-Me Collegiate League’s batting title. 

But Mozley isn’t shying away from dreaming of the Midwest Nationals claiming the Show-Me League’s championship, as the second half of the season gets under way.

“I want to win it,” Mozley said. “I was telling (someone) that I don’t know why I want to win this so badly, but I want to win this league. But if we don’t, I’m glad I got to meet this group of guys. I’m having fun.”

Mozley has hit at every level and at the same time maintained an impressive on-base percentage. If he needed confirmation he can hit college pitching, he’s received it. Entering this week’s action, the left-hander is swinging at .328 clip, good for third in the league. Shaver, also with the Nationals, is second at .359. The Ozark Wild’s Riley Herron, a Drury product, tops the circuit with a .364 mark.

“I like facing better competition. You always want to face the best,” Mozley said of SMCL slate. “I’m having fun with it. And, we get free meals after all these games, that’s always an added bonus.”

Gradually, Mozley and Shaver are making the transition to Missouri State. With each step they make toward being Bears, Mozley is thankful. 

“Carson and I have started lifting with the MSU team and we have our own lockers,” Mozley said. “We are getting comfortable with the guys. We’re glad we’re getting to know all the guys before we move in.”

For better or worse, Mozley won’t be facing the prospect of backing up a veteran at shortstop. MSU coach Keith Guttin started a true freshman in Mason Hull at shortstop last season. Hull batted .196.

Mozley thinks at this stage thinking about the competition for the starting shortstop position would be too soon.

“We’ll see what kind of lineup coach Guttin draws up,” he said. “But I’m not too worried about it now. I’m worried about getting my foot in the door, starting to hit and getting used to the college environment. I don’t look far ahead. We haven’t even moved in, yet. We’ll get our uniforms and then start worrying about (starting jobs) when fall comes.”

The best part of Mozley’s summer is he has been free of the chronic lower back pain that plagued him during his senior season at Ozark. He even was forced to sit out two weeks of games due to the pain, before making a return for COC play and Districts.

“Good, no problems,” he said when asked about his back. “Every since Districts, I haven’t had any problems. I’m doing good. I stretch more now. The doctor didn’t say that I got injured from not stretching. Where I got hurt in my back is a hard part to stretch. There are only two or three stretches you can do to help that part of your back. I just think stretching helps and makes me feel more flexible. 

“I was on Ibuprofen a lot during our games. I think playing in the cold really hurt my back. I think the heat definitely helps.”

Mozley initially served as Ozark’s closer, before giving up pitching because of his back. He hasn’t pitched this summer and has no plans to do so anytime soon.

“I’m done pitching,” he said. “(The Nationals) wanted me to pitch. But I don’t want to risk it. I love pitching, but don’t mind not pitching. There’s a lot of arm recovery you have to do and I’m not going to pitch in college, anyway, so there’s no point.”

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