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High School Baseball: Notre Dame brings back top four pitchers

Last season, the Cape Notre Dame baseball team won the SEMO Conference Tournament with a handful of games left until the Class 4 District 1 Tournament.

The Bulldogs earned the top seed in districts and were able to reach the championship game, but they fell short of winning their first district title since 2016 with a 4-0 loss to Sikeston.

Notre Dame continues with aspirations of claiming a first-place district plaque this season with high expectations considering the Bulldogs return an array of talent from last season.

Four of those players happen to be the team’s top four pitchers from last year, who recorded a combined record of 16-6 overall, 165 strikeouts and only allowed 78 runs in 26 starts on the mound.

“In baseball, you always start with your pitching staff, and we’re returning pretty much all of it,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Graviett said. “… I’m excited about our pitching staff, and I think it’s going to be our focal point this year. If we swing it a little bit, I think we have a chance to be pretty decent.”

Senior Kam Dohogne will return as the Bulldogs ace after recording a record of 5-3 during his junior campaign with 51 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.26. Dohogne was named the 2019 SEMO Conference Pitcher of the Year and signed with Columbia College to continue his baseball career last month.

Another player returning for Notre Dame with hopes of playing college baseball is fellow senior Brayden Eftink. On the mound, Eftink went 3-1 and tied Dohogne for the most strikeouts with 51, while producing a 3.12 ERA.

Eftink also serves as the Bulldogs three-hole hitter, where he finished with a batting average of .303 with 27 hits, seven doubles, four triples and a team-high five home runs. Eftink also scored 20 runs of his own and drove in 19.

Also returning to the mound will be junior Adam Gast, who actually recorded the most wins among any pitcher for Notre Dame in 2019 at 6-1 overall. Gast paced Dohogne and Eftink with 32 Ks and finished third among starting pitchers in ERA at 3.06.

At the plate, Gast finished with a .241 batting average and had 14 hits, two home runs and drove in 14 runs.

The final starting pitcher back in the rotation for Notre Dame is senior Zach Haygood, who finished 2-1 with an ERA of 2.81 along with 31 strikeouts.

Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back two of their top hitters in seniors Tyler Landewee and Gabe Hurley.  In last year’s batting lineup, Landewee was second in the order while Hurley batted fifth overall.

Landewee was the only player for Notre Dame to finish with a batting average of .400 (.407) and also recorded a team-high 33 hits and tied for the team-high in runs at 23 with 2019 graduate Collin Dumey. Landewee also led the Bulldogs in stolen bases with nine and drove in 15 runs.

Landewee also served as a relief pitcher last season and had a total of four saves, where he struck out 14 batters and held an ERA of .53.

Hurley finished second behind Landewee at the plate with a batting average  of .383 along with 31 hits, a team-high 11 doubles, one home run, 23 RBIs and scored 15 runs.

Through 27 games last season, Notre Dame was able to outscore opponents by 80 runs at 184 to 104.

“It’s always fun because you never know, and you get a group you think is going to be offensively talented,” Graviett said. “It’s hard to translate what you’re seeing in the [batting] cages to game situations.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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