Looking forward, not backward
Published 5:18 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Only time will tell if the Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawks baseball team will take any steps forward this spring, but at least many of the items that held the program back last spring should be in the past.
For starters, the freshmen that dominated last year's roster have turned into sophomores. Just as important is head coach Darrell Blevins has had a full year to get a recruiting class in place unlike the previous year when he was hired just a few days before the fall season began.
One of those sophomore front line players is shortstop Steven Bingert (Pensacola, Fla.). Bingert was JDCC's lone All-ACCC selection last year when he hit .410 with 24 RBIs.
The rest of the JDCC infield also has some familiar names although with some different looks. Last year's primary first baseman, sophomore Jake Bonds of Flomaton, has shifted to the other side of the diamond to third base.
Bonds' former first base post will probably be filled by the combination of sophomore Daniel Hodge (East Brewton), freshman Wade Schepper (Pace, Fla.) and freshman Matthew Stokes (Pensacola).
Sophomores Jesse Edwards (Notasulga) and Andrew Sawyer (Repton) return at second base. Freshman Fred Young (Pensacola) is also a possibility
Bingert will probably be backed up at shortstop by sophomore Kenny McDonald (Pensacola).
JDCC also has quite a bit of returning experience in the outfield.
Sophomore J.J. Cutler (Cantonment, Fla.), who saw considerable time last year before he was sidelined with a knee injury, is slated for left field along with freshman Clay Simpson (Flomaton) and freshman Joseph Spraggins (Montgomery).
Sophomore David Washington (Treasure Island, Fla.) returns in center field and will be joined by freshman Greg Gomez (Pensacola).
Right field may be the most unsettled spot headed into the season opener. Sophomore Ryan Gray (Pensacola), who missed the fall season with a knee injury, sophomore Jeremy White (Lawley), freshman George Cook (Shalimar, Fla.) and freshman Wesley Gambrill (Pensacola) are all competing for the position.
When they are not backing up Bonds at third base, Snedeker and Kelley, who is a transfer from Wallace State-Hanceville, will handle the catching duties with sophomore Wesley Burt (Auburn).
Sophomore Ben Green (Pensacola), is JDCC's tentative designated hitter going into the season.
The lack of depth in the pitching staff that plagued the Warhawks last year should not be a problem this year.
Sophomore righthanders Harrison Szuch (Pensacola), Michael Maraldo (Pensacola), Adam Reed (Pensacola), freshman Justin Bailey (Prattville) and freshman Josh Bailey (Cantonment) along with sophomore lefthander Tim Hone (Pensacola) should make up the starting rotation.
The relief corps should consist of sophomore lefthander Alex Granade (Brewton), freshmen lefthanders Robby Carlson (Pensacola) and Donovan Coker (Valley), freshmen righthanders Whitney Qualls (East Brewton), Myles Taylor (Pensacola) and Hunter Brown (Randolph).
The ACCC south division has a much different look this season, as the state's central division was dissolved and absorbed by the north and south divisions. Former central division members Central Alabama, Southern Union, Wallace State-Selma and Chattahoochee Valley will join the Warhawks in the south along with carryover members L.B. Wallace, Bishop State, Enterprise-Ozark, Wallace State-Dothan, Alabama Southern and Faulkner State. Teams will play divisional opponents three times this year as compared to five times last year.