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Millers ‘putting the puzzle back together’

Yukon baseball began the process of moving on from the 2019 senior class with the beginning of the summer season.

A trip to the University of Central Oklahoma to play Berryhill on Tuesday initiated offseason play for the Millers. There were no signs of rust or nerves in the 15-0 run rule.

Players said they needed to adjust attitudes at the conclusion of the regular season, and so far, they’re doing just that.

“Attitude was good and that’s something we’re working on,” coach Kevin James said. “When we finished up the season we had exit meetings with those guys and that’s one thing they mentioned, we need to clean stuff up. They took that upon themselves.”

Incoming seniors Josh Sanders and Jett Lodes took turns on the mound against the Chiefs.

Sanders pitched the first two innings, striking out two. Lodes went the next three, allowing one hit and striking out six.

Sanders and Lodes will be two athletes needing to embody the moving on process.

The duo has been asked to man pitching duties as well as play left field. Lodes will also get time at short stop, an area needing to be filled with the departure of Braylen Wimmer.

“We graduated a catcher, a short stop, an outfielder, a first basemen and some pitching, you’ve got to replace all that,” James said. “It could be a guy that was on the field move somewhere else.”

Some holes are being filled by young players stepping up.

In his first start for the varsity squad, Carson Lee impressed at catcher. Lee’s poise behind the plate shows the transition away from Nollan Koon could be seamless.

“He’s got a chance to be a really good catcher,” James said. “He’s got a big time arm, he’s replacing a two year starter there. Carson did a good job. Nothing got by him.

“With Jett and Josh throwing as hard as they do, and as nasty as their stuff is, it’s pretty tough to keep it in front sometimes. He did what was asked of him.”

Yukon finished the 2019 regular season in early May with a loss in the regional championship game. The Millers were 22-15.

With consistent success expected from the baseball program each year, James says he wants to see his players step up.

“Somebody has to show us that, ‘Coach, you’re going to have to play me. I’m going to have to do a good enough job to get me on the field.’ My view as a coach is, show me that I need to put you on the field,” he said.

Though the 14 games are exhibition, their importance is not in question.

Yukon needs the summer season to get a head start on what the 2020 campaign holds in store.

“It’s a situation that, we get to shuffle the deck and see how they fall,” James said. “Everything matters. Even though it’s the summer, it all matters. We just want to try to put the pieces of the puzzle back together and make the best with what we’ve got.”

Catch the Millers in action next at home Monday against Westmoore at 5 p.m.

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