February 20, 2009
After not fielding a baseball team a year ago, Aliceville High School will try it again this season.
But budget restraints will mean Aliceville will only play district games.
The first pitch for Aliceville is scheduled for March 22 against Pickens County rival Gordo.
"I think it''s good for the kids," Aliceville coach Chris David said. "I think for the ones that have come out and expressed interest that it''s going to be a good outlet for some of their energy. Baseball is an American sport, and it has strong, strong roots in the South. I see it being nothing but a plus, a very good positive."
Aliceville hasn''t had a team since the players quit at the end of the 2007 season. The Yellow Jackets were in contention to make the playoffs when then-coach Terry Sterling suspended a player and the other players quit.
David intends to start eighth-grader Gerald Sterling against Gordo.
"Most of my players are young kids," David said. "When I say young, I''m talking about mostly eighth-graders."
Aliceville doesn''t have a senior on the team.
Although Aliceville won''t play games to prepare for the district schedule, David believes the Yellow Jackets can contend for the district title.
"I wouldn''t coach a team if I didn''t think we could win," David said. "I always think I can win anywhere I go."
David believes the Jackets have the ingredients to win.
"Defense and speed," he said. "I don''t think we''ll have a problem getting on base. With the kind of speed we have at the top and the bottom of the lineup, we can manufacture a lot of runs."
When Aliceville begins the season, it will do so without a player who has started a game.
n Pickens Academy: Brach White returns to coaching as the coach of the Pirates.
White, who is also the headmaster at Pickens Academy, didn''t coach a year ago after being the coach for 13 years at Central Academy in Macon.
"I am excited about getting back into coaching," White said. "I coached varsity and JV baseball for 13 years at Macon, and would take nothing for the memories.
"I got in the school business to coach to start with. I definitely missed it and decided to get back in it this year. It''s fun to get back into the swing of it. I just hope for the kids that we have some success."
Pickens Academy, which was 7-16 in 2008, begins its season Monday at Winston Academy in Louisville.
Potential starters on the mound are sophomore Chase Davidson, junior Tyler Vails, and senior Holden Miles.
Pickens Academy''s returning starters are Miles, Vails, catcher Jim Farmer, shortstop Cody McAteer, and designated hitter Jeremy Pate.
"They really work hard," White said. "They have done anything and everything I have asked them to do. We have good numbers. We have 17 varsity players and 14 junior varsity players.
"I''m big on fundamentals, and we''re going to bunt and run. If we throw strikes and put the ball in play, we should be fine."
n Pickens County: The Tornadoes look to get into the win column after going 0-10 in 2008.
Pickens County assistant principal Fred Young has taken over the program this season, but because of his school obligations, Barry Ambrose will handle most of the on-field coaching duties. Ambrose is in his 15th season as a volunteer coach.
"We''re young," Young said. "We''re in a rebuilding process. The team is made up mostly of seventh- through ninth-graders. We have four seniors and out of the four seniors only two have game experience. The other two are in their first year playing."
The seniors with game experience are Corey Hudson and Austin Rogers. Hudson is a pitcher, catcher and shortstop, and Rogers is a pitcher and third baseman.
Hudson is the only returning starter.
Pickens County begins the season Feb. 27 against Greensboro. Kenny Lark is scheduled to be the starting pitcher.
n South Lamar: Rusty Funk takes over as the coach of the Stallions. It''s his first job as a baseball coach.
Funk, who is also South Lamar''s football coach, has assisted baseball teams at Stringer and Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, La.
Funk had just three practices with his squad before opening the season against Northside on Tuesday.
"I have six of them that were on the varsity basketball team, so more than half of my starting nine were on the basketball team," Funk said. "These kids believe in multi-sporting. It doesn''t bother me a lick."
Returning starters for South Lamar are pitcher and shortstop Eric Adams, pitcher and shortstop Brad McCool, catcher Russ Cole, and pitcher and outfielder Josh Thrasher.
South Lamar has a deep pitching staff with Adams, McCool, Thrasher, Nathan Funk, and Trent Wilson.
"I think in our classification (Class A) we''ll be a bit salty," Funk said. "We''ve got some kids we can put on the mound. Our pitching is not going to be too bad."
n Lamar County: The Bulldogs lost their opener to Curry 18-8.
Lamar County returns all but one starter from last year''s team that won two games.
Coach Ken Adams feels good about having an experienced team this season.
"We''re excited about the direction our program is going," said Adams, who also is Lamar County''s football coach. "It''s kind of like everything else we''re trying to accomplish at Vernon. We''re trying to change the attitude about where we want all of our athletic programs to be."
Lamar County used pitchers Lance Bobbitt, Brantley Stanford, and Kyle Galloway against Curry.
Adams like the potential of Jimmy Lann and eighth-grader Tyler Sprouse on the mound.
Michael Bradford leads off for Lamar County. He can pitch, catch and play shortstop and center field.
Adams also likes infielders Trevor Elliott and Will Franks.