March 15, 2012
Top Hurlers Have Tigers Fans Hopeful For Baseball Success
With its entire pitching staff intact following a 13-4 season last year, the Scotland County Tigers are hoping its arms can carry it to the state playoffs in 2012 after following a game short a season ago.
Ben Shannan leads an imposing group of hurlers that give the Tigers a shot at a win every night. The senior was a second-team all-state selection after compiling a 7-2 record and a 1.14 ERA. He fanned 82 batters in 55 innings pitched, helping to earn him co-MVP honors in the Tri-Rivers Conference in 2011.
First-year coach Daniel Burns will have the luxury of calling on Harley Stone as his number two starter. The senior racked up a 5-2 mark on the mound, striking out 65 batters in 38 innings pitched.
Sophomore Cordie Kigar gives the team a solid starting rotation and will work out of the bullpen in relief when necessary after gaining some varsity experience on the mound in 2011.
The trio will help anchor the infield on their nights off from pitching. Stone and Shannan rotated at shortstop with Kigar playing second base.
Burns will have to rework his lineup a bit in 2012, with a big hole at the top of the order created by the graduation of all-conference centerfielder Sabe Sears. He took his team-best .472 batting average on to play at Culver-Stockton College.
While the team will have to replace that speed in the leadoff spot, it has plenty of big boppers returning in the middle of the lineup.
Senior Drew Miller will handle the catching duties again and will be near the top of the order. He was second on the team last season with a .421 batting average and finished with a team-best 25 runs batted in. He'll be limited early in the year by a foot injury he suffered in the final week of the basketball season.
Fellow senior Brock Bondurant will also miss time as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Bondurant was the starter at first base and compiled a .360 batting average last year.
Andrew Mathes returns to man third base. He moved into the cleanup spot midway through the year and closed out with a .347 batting average and knocked in 19 runs.
In addition to filling the center field and first base vacancies, Burns will also have to find a new right fielder to replace graduate Rod Sears.
Junior Zach Miller started several games in left field for the Tigers in 2011 and should be the team's top stolen base threat this year.
Other returning players from last year's squad who will be in the mix at first base and the outfield will include Chris Jackson, Jonathon Cabreza, Kyler Burkhiser, Tyler Small, seniors Dylan Arnold and Christian Bradley, as well as a big cast of incoming freshmen.
The team will open the 2012 season on Monday, March 19th in a home game versus Highland. The Tigers will then travel to Canton on Tuesday evening before hosting Salisbury on March 26th and closing out March on the 31st in the Tri-Rivers Tournament.