After months of fall and winter preparation and an always, way to short, January pre-season, the 2013 campaign has finally arrived for the CVCC Baseball Team. On a team comprised of 60% freshmen, the swashbucklers are eager to hit the field this weekend. After winning back to back Southern Division titles in 2010 and 2011, while pushing and eclipsing the 40 win mark, the 2012 season saw the Pirates take a slight step back, finishing 35-24 with a second place finish in the ACCC’s Central Divsion, and a 5th place overall finish in the ACCC Tournament.
The Pirates will be led by virtually an all freshman pitching staff, with only 2 returnees from the 2012 staff. However, one of those, Ben Taylor, will anchor the pitching staff, as the Pirates # 1 starter. The University of South Alabama signee has been very impressive during fall practice and appears ready to take the reins as the Chatt Valley ace. Much heralded freshman, Dalton Rentz, will pitch in the # 2 spot. The big righty has been just as dominant during his first 7 months on campus. The 3-6 spots will fall into the hands of sophomore transfer Nate Morris (Pensacola State College), freshman Kevin Moore, and redshirt freshman Hunter Mitchell, who is making his well anticipated return from Tommy John Surgery.
Expect the majority of the relief pitching to fall on the shoulders of another crop of freshmen arms. Right handers Dylan Lee, Payne Kosobucki, Colt Ramsey, Casey Hanna, Cody Sheffield, and Mitch Shelby, have all proved to be more than capable of holding leads for the Pirate starters to get to the closers. The sole sophomore of the group, also happens to be one of only three lefties – Will Thomas, a Tennessee Tech University signee, along with redshirt freshman transfer, Joey Stringfellow (Columbus State University).
The late relief/closing duties will fall on freshmen right handed flame throwers, Matt Evenson and Chris Brown. Also, expect sophomore lefty, Nick Jones, to be pulled off of first base late in games to see action on the mound, as well.
Around the infield diamond, there will be several familiar names back in the PIrate lineup. Anchoring the group will be the rock solid catcher, Cody Walker. Walker, a Mississippi State University signee, is without question, the top shut down defensive catcher in the ACCC. However, freshman Jared Martin will see plenty of action, both behind the plate and as the Pirates’ # 3 hitter and DH. Nick Jones, the Pirates’ top power threat, will once again, anchor down first base, while returning All Conference performer, David Levy, will man the shortstop position with third year sophomore, Timmy Massengale, flanking him at third base. Second base will see a variety of personnel, as Jeff Ronpirin, Gaige Garrett, and Jerric Johnson will all see plenty of action. Expect Garrett and Johnson to serve as CVCC’s all purpose infielders, using their talents at all 3 infield positions.
The outfield is arguably the most talented defensively in the Coach Adam Thomas era. With plenty of speed to burn, Luke Ewing, Dominique Smedley, James Cunningham, and JD Perry all will be part of an everyday outfield rotation. Redshirt sophomore Ty Abbott is returning after missing all of 2012 with a back injury. One of the biggest offensive threats in the ACCC, Abbott will serve as the Pirates everyday rightfielder, while platooning at first base while Jones pitches. Also, expect giant freshman, Cam Sperry, to be in the lineup on a regular basis as a corner outfielder and DH, as he provides some serious thunder from the left side of the plate. Redshirt freshman Sam Knight and redshirt sophomore Chris Laye, will provide substantial depth in the outfield positions, as well.
The Pirates travel down to Panama City Beach, Florida on Thursday, January 31st to the campus of Gulf Coast State College to participate for the third consecutive year in the Kevin Miller Classic. CVCC will open up against St. John’s River State College at 5:00 pm eastern on Thursday. The Pirates will face Gordon College on Friday, February 1st at 8:00 pm, and will finish the weekend on Saturday with a 5:00 pm matchup with familiar foe, Andrew College.
Parents and fans, there will be a daily gate charge for the tournament. Gulf Coast State College’s address is 5230 West Highway 98, Panama City, FL 32401.