Barnstormers Start Toward Title Defense
The Lancaster Barnstormers have begun to build the roster for their title defense in 2023 with the re-signing of two key players from 2022.
Right-handed starting pitcher Nile Ball and outfielder Shawon Dunston, Jr. have agreed to contracts for the 2023 season, it has been announced by manager Ross Peeples. They are the first two players under contract for the upcoming campaign which begins at Southern Maryland on Friday, April 28.
Ball, 25, led the club with 11 wins during the 2022 regular season. The right-hander from Decatur, Georgia worked 141.1 innings to lead the club while posting an 11-5 record and 4.08 ERA. He struck out 118 batters.
After going 1-3 through the end of May, the former U. Missouri Tiger rolled off wins in five consecutive decisions with a 2.20 ERA through July 14. He tossed eight innings of shutout baseball against Staten Island on July 3 and six innings against High Point on July 14. Ball also struck out a season-high 10 at Lexington on June 28 after carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Legends.
He was 0-1 in his post-season starts, pitching the third game against Southern Maryland in the division series and the second game against High Point in the finals.
Ball had pitched in the American Association for Gary and Sioux City in 2019 and was working in real estate when the Barnstormers signed him in 2021. He was 3-6 for Lancaster that season.
“Ball will be a starter as he has the last couple of years,” said Peeples. “He has been working hard this off season to become more consistent. He is fun to watch.”
Dunston, 29, joined the Barnstormers in June and hit safely in 14 of his first 15 games, batting .328. He had the club’s only five-hit game of the season, July 8 against the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes. That came at the outset of a 10-game hitting streak.
The lefty hitter would finish the season at .301 with 50 runs scored in 54 games. He hit four of his five home runs during the final week of the season, including three consecutive leadoff homers, after missing five weeks with a leg injury.
In the eight games of the post-season, Dunston went 9-for-30 with one homer. He scored eight runs and drove in five.
The California native spent 4 ½ seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization and 1 ½ years with the San Francisco system, peaking at the High-A level. He also played in the American Association and Frontier Leagues prior to coming to Lancaster.
“Dunston will be mostly used in center,” Peeples said. “He is a professional in the way he goes about his business. I am looking forward to have him lead off and anchor the outfield again.”
“I am very excited to have both of them back.”