RiverDawgs poised for OVL Championship run

June 4, 2021 | 12:04 am

Updated June 3, 2021 | 11:29 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Local college athletes will be bringing their talent to the Ohio Valley League’s very own Owensboro RiverDawgs as the storied franchise looks to pick up where it left off in 2019.

Because of COVID-19 this will be the RiverDawgs first season since 2019 in which they claimed second place in their respective decision with an overall record of 23-14. The year prior Owensboro won the OVL Championship.

Now in their 22nd year as a franchise, Head Coach Vic Evans said that the bar is still set just as high despite having a season off.

“Our expectations are the same thing every year,” Evans said. “We expect to compete for the Northern Division title and we expect to compete for the OVL Championship. I mean that’s our goal every year we do this.”

The RiverDawgs will have three All-OVL members returning to the team from 2019, those three being Paris Junior College second baseman Kyle Hogwood, Olney Central third baseman Bailey Falkenstein and Kentucky Wesleyan closer Drake Hamil.

This dominant trio will also be joined by some familiar faces thanks to Evans and company’s recruiting efforts.

“When kids leave Owensboro and go off to college, we always try to get them to come back for a year and play with us,” Evans said. “This year we were very lucky. We’ve got some really good Owensboro kids that people saw growing up playing high school.”

Those familiar faces include Owensboro’s very own shortstop Tucker Hagan and pitcher Nick Belcher.

To further the local comradery, including Hamil, a number of teammates from Kentucky Wesleyan join him, including pitcher/outfielder Chase Harlan, outfielder/catcher Peyton Meredith, pitcher Seth Wright, and pitcher/outfielder Aric Lyons.

Some other notable names include right-handed pitchers Brock Lucas and Preston Cottrell— both make their way from Breckenridge County—Derrick Jeffers who had an impressive year at Northwood University and Saint Leo University’s first baseman Paul Coumoulos who earned a spot on the Division 2 All-Southeast Team last season.

With the season quickly approaching, the team spent the last week focusing on getting familiarized not only with the team, but the field they’ll spend the summer competing on as well.

“These guys have just come off a college season where they just played 55 games,” Evans said. “They’ve been practicing since the fall. So it’s not like we need a lot of practice time. We just like to get out and field a few ground balls off the turf, because not everyone plays on turf and let our outfielders get used to the hill in left field… We like to let them get to know the ins and the outs of Chautauqua park. We’ll be ready to go.”

Evans No. 1 priority for this season, as it is year in and year out, is for every player’s development to progress so that they return to school ready to take another step forward in their collegiate careers.

“One, we hope that everybody that came here got a little better,” Evans said. “I mean that’s what summer baseball is about, for you to improve your craft. That’s the main goal is for our guys to improve their craft and get better so when they go back to college they are better players.”

Evans said that the teams second priority is to bring some hardware, by first, winning the division and second, winning the OVL Championship.

“Just below that is to win the OVL title,” Evans said. “We told the guys ‘if you’re going to do something and you’re going to keep score it’s always much better to end up on the higher end than the lower end of that.’ So being competitive and winning is important.”

The RiverDawgs open the season on the road, taking on a tough Dubois County Bombers team at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 4, at League Stadium.

“The Dubois County Bombers are always good,” Evans said. “Every year they’ve been in the league for the past four or five seasons they’ve either won the division or are in the hunt. They’re always in the hunt for the division title. So you know you’re going to face one of the top franchises in the OVL.”

June 4, 2021 | 12:04 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like