Panther offense looks for defensive help
March 16, 2005 - By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
Last year was a breakthrough season for the Mehlville Senior High baseball team.
The Panthers went 14-14 overall in 2004, a drastic improvement from their records of 3-19 in 2003 and 4-16 in 2002.
But the Panthers have several holes to fill on defense to improve on their .500 mark from last year.
"I think we have four big holes on defense that we'll have to fill," head coach Jim Kern told the Call. "I think that right now we're hitting the ball decent, but we need to im-prove on that in order to be good."
Seniors Steve Braun, Tony Maus and Jake Morgan should provide a foundation of leadership for the 2005 Panthers.
Braun is a four-year starter at shortstop. He hit .280 with 10 runs batted in on 23 hits last season. Braun hit four doubles, slugged one home run and stole eight bases.
"Steve should be the catalyst for us both offensively and defensively," Kern said. "He'll be one of the best shortstops in the area."
Maus will roam the grass in left field, play first base and spend some time on the mound for the Panthers. He led team with a .476 batting average with 12 runs batted in on 30 hits. In one inning pitched, Maus gave up one hit and struck out one.
"Tony got very few innings last year," Kern said. "He's a very good hitter and defensively he will not hurt us. He's a guy that will be hitting in the head of our lineup."
Morgan also will see time at first base when he's not on the mound. The Panther ace posted a 7-1 record last season with a 2.37 earned run average. Morgan struck out 64 and kept his opponents to a slim .226 batting average. At the plate, he batted a stout .435 with four doubles, two triples and nine runs batted in.
"Jake will be our No. 1 pitcher again this year," Kern said. "He can be dominating at times and his competitiveness will keep us in any game that he's throwing."
The Panthers' No. 2 starting pitcher appears to be Mike Zeller, who went 4-2 last season with a 6.00 earned run average.
The junior struck out 25 batters in 301/3 innings pitched.
"Mike throws the ball extremely hard and most likely will be our No. 2 pitcher," Kern said. "He can be dominating when he keeps the ball down and hits his spots."
Clayton Camp will guard the plate for the Panthers. The junior catcher saw limited time last season, batting in two runs on one hit during three trips to the plate.
"Clayton's been working hard in the off season to take over that role," Kern said. "He's going to be an integral part of the team this year."
Sophomore Barry Gregg will cover right field as well as spend some time on the mound for the Panthers. Gregg was 1-2 on the hill last season with a 4.48 earned run average and 12 strikeouts.
"Barry's having some arm problems, but as long as he can throw, he'll be one of our starters," Kern said. "He's very sound in