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Eagles' Red & Blue Classic sweep includes beating defending state champions


Wyatt Vincent and his Nixa teammates have quickly put together a nine-game winning streak, after enduring an 0-4 start to this season.

The Eagles swept their four games at the Red & Blue Classic over the weekend. They routed Lee’s Summit North 15-0 and clobbered Kearney 8-0 Friday and followed up edging Liberty North 1-0 and downing Lee’s Summit West 6-2 Saturday.

Over a span of 11 days, Nixa went 9-0 and outscored its opponents by a combined 67-12.

“We didn't expect to start (0-4),” Vincent said. “But there was no need to get too mad about it. We knew we were capable of winning and that's what we're showing now. The way we're rebounding, we're showing a lot of improvement in all aspects of our game. We've cleaned up the little things. It's making us a better team.”

Vincent has started every game since his freshman year over the past two-plus seasons, but found himself benched in Nixa’s home-opening 2-1 loss to Glendale two weeks ago. He was subbed for being picked off at first base and again at third base.

The junior center fielder hasn’t had to deal with much adversity during his career and didn’t dwell on his rare mistakes.

“I don't think I was focused at the beginning of the season,” Vincent said. “I was expecting to steal a lot. People know I'm fast, so they're going to try to pick me off. I've changed my perspective on baserunning. I think I've got it all cleaned up.”

His confidence has stayed intact.

“I trust my work and trust I've put in the time to be successful,” Vincent said. “You're still going to make mistakes here and there. Yeah, I get upset about a not-so-great performance. But I let it go after the game is over. I know I've put in the work and the time to be successful, so there's no reason to doubt myself. I can't let it affect me for the next game because, if I do that, it would just lead to more downfalls.”

Vincent has hit well since the get-go. He delivered at the plate Saturday, contributing a two-run single to start the Eagles’ scoring against Lee’s Summit West.

“The ball bounced my way and we got two runs,” he said.

Vincent has been a consistent run producer, whether scoring himself or collecting RBIs. A leadoff hitter for Nixa the past two years, he has experience hitting third.

“Two years ago, my summer ball coach saw my power and said, 'You're not hitting leadoff for me, you're hitting three-hole,’” Vincent said. “I hit three-hole for the whole summer and actually did well. But I like the leadoff spot better.”

The depth of Nixa’s pitching staff shined over the weekend. Even without heralded ace Jackson Gamble, the Eagles posted three shutouts.

Nate Uber moved over from first base to make a rare start on the mound against Liberty North. He proceeded to shut out the defending Class 6 state champions.

“We've got a lot of guys who can throw a lot of innings and a lot of guys coming out of the 'pen who can end it,” Uber said.

“Man, that was fun to watch," coach Logan Hughes said. "We allowed two runs in four games against some of the top teams in the state, while throwing some guys who haven't pitched a whole lot. It's a testament to our (pitching) coaches, Michael York and Byron Hagler. We don't have guys who throw really hard. But we have guys who pitch and compete.”

Uber’s off-speed pitches were a difference-maker.

“I threw my slider quite a bit,” Uber said. “As long as I can locate it, it's good. I threw a lot of sliders in fastball counts.”

“Nate, holy cow what a great job,” Hughes said. “He struck two guys out looking on 3-2 counts with his off-speed stuff. When you can pitch like that, with your off-speed stuff in any count, you always keep the hitters guessing. They can never consistently get good swings off.”

Grady Eoff, a freshman, gained the win in a relief role against Lee’s Summit West. 

“Grady coming out against one of the best teams in the state and competing with them pitch for pitch, that was impressive,” Hughes said.

Nixa was minus Gamble all week, as he dealt with the flu bug.

“We hope he comes back soon,” Hughes said. “He’s a huge part of our team. We want him healthy.”