JDCC baseball putting pieces back together
Published 1:46 pm Monday, August 8, 2005
By By BRUCE HIXON-Sports Editor
A summer that began with a mass exodus from the Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawks baseball program has ended with new coach Darrell Blevins restocking the shelves.
When Blevins took over the program's head coaching duties back on July 14, he inherited a roster that had dwindled to just 14 members. Seventeen players left the program since this past spring season ended as a domino effect of the dismissal of head coach Jim Morrill. Morrill, who coached through the end of the season, was dismissed in April as part of a job consolidation move by the school.
The list of departed sophomores-to-be and incoming freshmen included Jimbo Bunch, Charles Thompson, Jordan Ball, Mark Brooks, Robert Brown, Brett Burkett, Eli Cook, Patrick Sorrells, David Brower, William Brown, Joe Owens, Nick Porter, Kuyaunnis Miles, Kyle McPherson, Ben Jackson, Clay Mather and Brian Schaff.
In the short time Blevins has taken over, he has added 17 members to the roster. Five of those additions are scholarship signings.
"I started recruiting hard the day I got the job. For the most part, the players we've picked up are in this region. While a lot of the better players around here had already signed by the time I got the job, I think we've still been able to pick up some good, quality players. I'm excited about the players we have added," Blevins said.
JDCC's list of scholarship signings includes catchers Nathan Hughes of Opelika and Tyler Rolan of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery.
"Nathan throws really well. He has a lot of physical strength. I think he has a chance to be a real good hitter," Blevins said. "Tyler has good size and with that size has a chance to be a good hitter. I think he can handle our pitchers well. He has room for development, but he also has a chance to be a real good player."
Blevins has also inked Kenny McDonald, a shortstop from Tate High School (Fla.).
"Kenny will make the routine play consistently. He is a contact type hitter who handles the ball well," Blevins said.
The JDCC skipper has signed two hurlers, lefthander Tim Horn of Woodham High School in Pensacola and righthander Chad Chadourne of Fairhope.
"Tim has good command of three pitches and I look for him to step right in and contribute," Blevins said. "Chad has pretty good velocity. He has been able to hit about 88 miles per hour. I think he has a chance to do something really special after a couple of years in our program."
JDCC has also resigned
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sophomore-to-be first baseman Charlie Sutton. Sutton asked and received his release from his JDCC scholarship in June when no coach was in place. Sutton hit .316 with two homers and 33 RBIs last spring.
"We're excited about getting Charlie to recommit to the program. He is a frontline type player who hits well and runs well for his size," Blevins.
Blevins said there could be some additional roster additions before next year's spring season gets underway.
"You usually see a some player movement after the fall semester. We'll take a look at who is available and may pick up some players then," Blevins said.
In addition to restocking the roster, Blevins has been busy with other aspects of the JDCC program.
"One of the other biggest things I've been doing is putting our schedule together. When I took over there were only four games scheduled for this fall and we're allowed to play up to 20. Right now we've got that slate up to 18 games. There weren't any spring games scheduled outside of the 30 we play within the conference. Right now we've got about spring 46 games scheduled," Blevins said. "There have been some other things we've been trying do like inventory, getting the field ready and doing some work within our clubhouse."
JDCC starts fall practice next Wednesday.
"The fall is an exhibition season for us. It gives us a chance to see what the players can do. We get a chance to tinker with the lineup, get our defense in place for different situations and work on our baserunning," Blevins said.
In addition to seeing what his players can do on the field, Blevins is also excited about the recent hiring of assistant coach Josey Shannon, a Maplesville native.
"Coach Shannon played at Alabama Southern while I was an assistant coach there. He later played two years of independent league baseball for Baton Rouge (La.) and Pensacola. I'm looking forward to working with both him and our players," Blevins said.