Prep Baseball: Teams take diamond for spring season
Baseball season is off and running early in 2013, and here is a look at the young men who will compete on the diamond this spring.
The Bulldogs won just twice last season, but the good news is they were extremely young and the majority of the players have returned after getting more experience over the summer. They lost outfielder Justin Hubbard and infielder Stephen Stanley, but have most of the infield back. Some of the top returning players include top pitcher Joe Stanley, shortstop Dominick Hinson, first baseman Zack Anderson, catcher Felix Fernandez, along with Skylar Barnes and James Bethea.
Though the Bulldogs still lack some experience, they have already equaled the win total from last year. They will have a tough road in the 2-A Central Carolina Conference, but head coach Stan Baranowski is confident they will be more competitive and should not be taken lightly.
“I want us to be competitive,” said Baranowski. “I would like to go in conference and let those guys know that playing us is not a gimme. We are going to compete and battle down to the last out. If we can hit the ball, throw strikes and play some defense, we will be fine.”
As the postseason approached in 2012, East Davidson was limping home and were never really in the state championship chatter. But once the playoffs rolled around the Golden Eagles made a lot of noise, reaching the fourth round before being eliminated by a mix of Mother Nature and East Rutherford.
Almost every member returns from a team that finished second in the CCC last season, making the Golden Eagles one of the favorites to make another deep push in the playoffs.
On the mound, the Eagles return its two aces in Avery Bowles (all-CCC) and Braxton Shetley. Other returning key players include Tyler Stroup (CCC player of the year), Nathan Campbell, A.J. Holder, Trevor Jones and Josh Craven. Other guys expected to contribute include Ryan McIntire and Tyler Rhodes.
In his 30th season, head coach Dan Tricarico has the caliber of team that can win a title for the first time since the program took home the top prize in 1999.
“As always our team goals are to win the conference title, conference tournament title and state championships,” said Tricarico. “Our senior leadership and acceptance of roles by our players will be instrumental if we are to reach our goals. If our pitchers get the job done we will be competitive.”
Wallburg was an exciting place to be last season as Ledford took home the 3-A Mid-Piedmont Conference championship. But there is a lot of rebuilding to do in 2013 for Kemp Smith’s club. Gone is Jonathan Colyn (MPC player of the year), Erik Connolly, Pete Guy, Brock Phillips and Matt Thorburn. Though much of the lineup is gone, there are three guys who can provide leadership and keep the Panthers competitive.
Pitcher/infielder Duke Boger returns, along with catcher Chas Shields and top hitter Austin Stilley. Those three will have to bring the younger guys along in a tough MPC conference with teams like Northeast Guilford and North Forsyth challenging for the league crown year in and year out.
“We lost a lot last year and we have a lot of guys who are going to have to step up,” Smith said. “We are still looking for an identity of what we are going to be. We still have a good core, so if we can get some guys to fill in we should be all right.”