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Loeffler’s leadership will be missed

Senior catcher Tony Loeffler will play his last home game Saturday on senior day at the Spring Sports Complex. His presence will be missed. “His leadership ability is the biggest thing we will miss,” Coach Buzz Verduzco said. “Trying to get the new catcher for next year to do what he does is going to be the biggest task. Not just his catching ability but his leadership ability.” Loeffler has done a very good job of managing the pitching staff, something that Verduzco hasn't always had in past years. “He's been with us two years, and his background in baseball and his approach to the game with his way of being able to positively handle the pitching staff, especially the upperclassmen,” Verduzco said. “He knows when to push the buttons at the right time, he knows how to back off, he knows how to encourage, and he knows how to call a game.” “Managing this pitching staff is pretty easy because everybody on the staff is smart, has a lot of knowledge for the game, and knows what they are doing out there,” Loeffler said. “I just go with what they do best and tell them what I think and if they like it they do it.” Loeffler has went through some early struggles at the plate and is batting .235 on the season with 14 runs batted in, but remained an extremely valuable part of the pitching staff's success. “Sometimes with baseball you go through streaks and slumps, and I was struggling pretty bad at the beginning,” Loeffler said. “I was just trying to help the team win any way that I can. I'm feeling a little better at the plate and seeing the ball well now, and hopefully I can keep it going through the end of the year,” Loeffler wasn't alone in struggling out of the gate and the rest of the Griffons had trouble getting the bats going as well. Recently the team as a whole has been hitting the ball much better and, in Loeffler's case, Verduzco has an idea of why. “Tony always says he's a warm weather player and, sure enough, it's here and, sure enough, he has been a big part of the offensive surge for the last few weeks,” Verduzco said. Loeffler will celebrate his senior day along with seven other seniors including pitcher Nik Jurado, who he has been the catcher for in high school, junior college and during his Western career. “It always helps when you have some familiarity with the guys on the mound,” Verduzco said. “Nik wouldn't want anybody else to catch him.” Both players made the journey from California to Missouri to play their last two years of college baseball. Loeffler doesn't quite know what to make of the whole senior day experience. “It hasn't really sunk in yet because I haven’t really put a lot of thought into it,” Loeffler said. “I'm sure when we get out there on Saturday it's going to feel a lot more real.” Loeffler has his focus set on extending his career for a few more games with the Griffons making a post-season run. “It's going to be a success either way, but I want to go as far as possible in the playoffs,” Loeffler said. “I personally think a success would be going to the regional and winning.”

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