Accountability playing key part in Blue Devils staying focused in pursuit of success


Quincy High School senior shortstop Kyle Taylor is one of several experienced players the Blue Devils will lean on in pursuit of postseason success. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Owen Zanger looks around the diamond and sees the bond the game has created among the Quincy High School baseball players.

“We’re all great friends,” he said. “I think that comes with every successful team.”

For this group, though, it doesn’t come with an air of indifference for those not performing or not being committed.

“We are also pretty hard on each other,” said Zanger, the Blue Devils’ senior catcher. “There are a lot of times teammates are great friends and they’re there to have a good time together. We’re not there just to hang out together. We’re there to win. This group is pretty special because if I’m taking a play off, I’m getting chewed out by my teammates.

“I feel that accountability is a big deal for this team. Everyone holds everyone accountable.”

For good reason. The Blue Devils expect to do big things.

Bolstered by a strong defensive backbone and a wealth of returning arms, Quincy hopes to improve on last season’s 15-17 record and change the ending. The Blue Devils lost 6-4 to eventual state champion Edwardsville in the Class 4A regional semifinals.

“It’s all about how hard we’ve worked up to this point,” said senior first baseman Jansen Lawson, one of four Blue Devils already committed to play baseball in college. “We’ve all put in extra time since May last year when our season unfortunately ended early. We’ve all worked harder than we ever have before to be ready,”

And Lawson agrees with Zanger’s assessment that accountability is key.

“This year, more than other teams I’ve been a part of, we’re more team-focused rather than being individual-focused,” he said. “It’s a big part of why everyone stays working as hard as they do.”

Quincy High School senior catcher Owen Zanger is one of six returning starters helping anchor the Blue Devils’ defense this spring. | Matt Schuckman photo

Defensively, that should pay off in a major way.

The backbone of the defense is solid with Zanger returning at catcher, senior Kyle Taylor starting at shortstop and senior Evan Sohn patrolling center field. Brady Lowe’s presence at third base and Lawson anchoring first base gives the Blue Devils solid gloves at the corners.

They each are expected to be a significant part of the offensive attack, too, along with junior Tykell Hammers, who returns as the starter in left field and the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

“Last year was the first starting on varsity for a lot of us, and we had a lot to learn,” Zanger said. “Now we know what we have to do and what it takes to get the job done. I think we’re all pretty prepared to go whatever it takes.”

That experience will certainly show on the mound as Lowe, Taylor and Lawson give the Blue Devils three front-line arms, and they’re backed by depth in the bullpen.

“They’ve been working really hard upping their velo, working on their control, improving their offspeed stuff,” Zanger said. “They’ve put in so much work to having a huge role in what we’re trying to do this year.”

That’s sit atop the Western Big 6 Conference and challenge for a regional title. The QHS program hasn’t won a regional title since 1999.

“We have to stay mentally focused,” Lawson said. “At times last year, we would take ourselves out of games with mental errors and mental mistakes. We’d run ourselves off the bases. If we really focus and stay locked in to the game, we will have a lot more success.”

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