Led by all-state performer Austin Thrasher and fellow all-star hurler Cordie Kigar, Scotland County will return all but one starter to last year’s 10-7 baseball team generating high expectations for 2014.
The Tigers kicked off the season Monday night at Highland, overcoming threats of snow to get the season-opener in.
Weather has played a big role early on for SCR-I, who finally managed to get on the field for a practice on Friday. Prior to that coach Daniel Burns and his squad had been getting their work in indoors.
“We have done a lot of throwing,” Burns said. “We have a pair of indoor mounds that have helped us get a lot of work done by our pitchers.”
That’s not good news for the competition, as Thrasher and Kigar both earned all-conference and all-district honors as SCR-I’s 1-2 punch on the mound and should be ready for even bigger and better things in their senior seasons.
The duo shared the shortstop duties when they were not pitching. They’ll be teamed up with a variety of double-play options as Burns said second and third base currently are embroiled in battles to name a starter.
“We have a lot of depth and a lot of good players competing for those open spots,” said Burns. “Early on you’ll likely see a lot of different lineups for us as that sorts itself out.”
Returning players Mason VanHoozen, Kyler Burkhiser and Marcus Jenkins will be in the mix for the two jobs along with several freshmen, including Aaron Buford, Aaron Blessing and Grant Campbell.
Tyler Buford will return to handle the catching duties and senior Landyn Swearingen again will see the bulk of the duty at first base.
All-conference performer Chris Jackson will bring his potent bat back as a starting outfielder, along with fellow returning lettermen Jacob Blessing and Jacob Hull.
Hull and Blessing likely will see time on the mound as well, along with Burkhiser and Jenkins. Burns said freshmen Aaron Buford, Campbell, and Will Pickerell also will get a chance to throw.
“We have a full roster with 20 kids, so we’re hoping to get in as much junior varsity action as we can to get as many kids as possible on the field,” Burns said.
The quantity is good, but the quality is what has Burns setting his sights high.
“Basically returning everyone from last year likely has put the target on us as the team to beat in the Tri-Rivers Conference,” Burns said. “I think we can win the league if we play up to our potential and hopefully we get another shot at district champions Canton.”