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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Dixon 'Dogs prepare for spring baseball

  • DIXON – In the fall, Dixon Bulldogs fans caught only a glimpse of the high school baseball team.
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  • DIXON – In the fall, Dixon Bulldogs fans caught only a glimpse of the high school baseball team.
    The first half of the baseball season resulted in a successful 10-6 fall record against quality competition, but Coach Alex Shelton said his "team has come a long way" since his hiring in 2007.
    "We've won [the Frisco] Conference four-out-of-five years, including the last three," Shelton said, adding that his Bulldogs won their initial district championship a year ago. "We've basically improved our win totals each season I've been here."
    Shelton said he is constantly looking for ways to improve the squad and that will be a tough challenge. Nine student-athletes graduated in 2012, leaving the formerly 22-6 (8-0) squad with a youthful roster.
    "[2012] was probably our best season all around," Shelton said. "We had nine solid guys and they gelled well together."
    Seven of the nine graduates were starters, but each participated in Dixon's baseball program for years and mentored the Bulldogs' underclassmen.
    But just because the nucleus of a No. 10-ranked unit departed last spring doesn't mean Dixon can't contend for Frisco League glory again in 2013.
    Some of last year's holdovers include honorable mention all-state catcher Solomon Weider and second baseman Joe Hardwick, who has blossomed after moving to shortstop.
    Aside from Weider and Hardwick, however, Shelton said one of Dixon's biggest weaknesses is lack of varsity experience – and that's dwindling.
    "One thing that's good is we get to play fall and spring," Shelton said. "We play over 30 games in the summer as well, so we're getting experience as we've gone along; they came a long way this summer and had a pretty good season in the fall."
    Due to inexperience and the absence of proven hitters, Dixon has moved from an aggressive hitting lineup to a more "scrappy" style of play involving moving runners into scoring position.
    "We're going to count on the bottom-of-the-order guys to manufacture runs and move guys over," Shelton said.
    Another area to improve, according to the coach, is defense.
    "Our goal is to always have less than two errors a game," the coach said. "This fall we weren't at that level yet."
    Additionally, five of the nine Bulldogs' graduates bolstered the pitching rotation.
    "We have three or four guys that are good, solid varsity pitchers right now," Shelton said.
    But as he previously mentioned, there is always room for beneficial development.
    "The Frisco League has always had a reputation for good baseball," Shelton said. "I think this year our biggest competition will probably be Iberia, Licking and Plato, not counting us. I have those dates circled on our calendar already."
    Page 2 of 2 - Senior-heavy Licking handed Dixon two of its six losses in the fall and Plato is a competitor at any point in a ballgame. Iberia finished 2012 ranked just out of the top-10 teams in Missouri and annually produces one of the best teams in the state.
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