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story.lead_photo.caption The Russellville Indians baseball team practices March 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Labotka / California Democrat.

Last season, the Russellville Indians baseball team finished in third place at the Class 2 state tournament. The team finished the season with a 6-4 win against the Skyline Tigers to take third place and end the year with a 20-14 record.

Head coach Lucas Branson said he believes last season will serve as motivation for the team to continue playing at as high a level as possible.

Branson said he does not believe the players are feeling much pressure to repeat last year's success.

"We have established a culture of expecting rather than hoping to be in those situations, playing in playoff games," Branson said. "Our guys go about playing the game the right way and work on controlling what they can control on a daily basis and play hard working to get better every day."

This year, Branson said, the team has the goal to win a district championship again and give themselves a chance at the final four and a state championship.

The Indians will see new teams in their district this spring, Class 2 District 9. Joining Russellville are Calvary Lutheran, Crocker, Eugene, Iberia and Vienna.

"We placed an importance on getting better every day and trying to play our best baseball in mid- to late May," Branson. "So we may have a few bumps along the way early, but I believe and the players believe in our ability."

Branson said he feels like the team is full of players capable of having very good years, this season.

"Returning everyone from last season is a bonus, and then we added a junior transfer Dawson Koch, who is a very good addition to our pitching staff," Branson said. "We have very good leadership from our seniors (Austin Roe, Nick Thompson, Chandler Miller, Mason Stewart, Riley Marcum and Ethan Huff) and our juniors have also played in a lot of high pressure games the past couple years. I feel like we have 15-16 guys that can help us at the varsity level."

Heading into this season, Branson said the team objective is to be playing their best baseball in mid- to late May and that everyday is a process of getting better on both sides, offensively and defensively.

"I feel like our pitching staff is as deep and as good as anyone in our class, so it will be important for us to get those guys sharp on the mound for another postseason run," Branson said.

Russellville Spring 2019 baseball schedule:

March 15, vs. Skyline at Preston, 4:30 p.m.

March 16, at Knob Noster, 10 a.m.

March 16, vs. Lafayette County (Higginsville), 12:30 p.m.

March 18, vs. Vienna, 5 p.m.

March 22, vs. Fatima, 5 p.m.

March. 23, at Crane, noon

March 23, vs. Lincoln at Crane, 2:30 p.m.

March 26, vs. Calvary Lutheran, 5 p.m.

March 28, vs. Jamestown, 5 p.m.

March 29, at St. Elizabeth, 5 p.m.

April 1, at Eugene, 5 p.m.

April 2, at Eldon, 5 p.m.

April 4-6, at Capital City Invitational at Jefferson City, TBA

April 8, vs. California, 5 p.m.

April 11, at Linn, 5 p.m.

April 12, vs. Camdenton, 5 p.m.

April 13, vs. Versailles, 9:30 a.m.

April 13, vs. Pilot Grove, 2:30 p.m.

April 15, vs. Osage, 5 p.m.

April 23, at Harrisburg, 2:15 p.m.

April 26-27, at Russellville Tournament, TBA

May 1, vs. South Callaway, 5 p.m.

May 6, at New Bloomfield, 5 p.m.

May 8, vs. Southern Boone, 5 p.m.

May 9, vs. Tipton, 5 p.m.

May 11-16, at District Tournament, TBA

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