Coal Grove must replace outfield

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2000

Coal Grove has an experienced infield but not the outfield.

Monday, April 03, 2000

Coal Grove has an experienced infield but not the outfield. All that may change as the season moves along.

Email newsletter signup

"The infield is pretty solid, we just have to solidify the outfield," Hornets coach John Jones said. "We’ve moved some people around and hopefully that will make for a good outfield."

The Hornets lost some key players in first baseman/pitcher Brad Miller, and outfielders Brandon Keeney, Dave Borders, and Howie McCormick.

"Our whole outfield was seniors and we have to replace them. We lost a couple of .400 hitters in those outfielders (Borders and Keeney)."

The emergence of senior Tim McClean at shortstop has enabled Jones to move junior Ryan Young to the outfield. Young will be joined in the outfield by either senior Dave Webb, juniors Josh Keaton and Andy Dean, and sophomores Tim Harrison, Ryan Brown, and Tyler Waller.

"I was expecting McClean to play first or third, but he’s coming along best at shortstop and moved Ryan Young to the outfield," said Jones. "McClean’s arm is stronger and he has more agility. If we can solidify the outfield, we should be better defensively.

"Dean had a nice scrimmage and he looks to be in left. Webb’s the only returning outfielder with playing time. Brown and Young figure to play somewhere. Right now, we don’t know who we’re going to start. It could be anyone right now. Some hit, some have strong arms, and some are better defensively."

A move last season paid off and will be even better this season. Senior Dean Mader shifted from third base to catcher and Jones said he is even better this season.

"Mader has come a long way defensively, and his bat is going again," said Jones.

Besides McClean, the infield looks to have junior Jarrod Keaton back at first base except when he pitches. His backup will be senior Nathan Webb.

Senior Josh Collins returns at second base while senior Josh Fields, who has signed with Rio Grande, again mans third base.

"Keaton hit .491 last season and he really strokes the ball and he has a lot of pop in his bat," said Jones. "Collins will be in the leadoff spot, McClean hit .400 last year and he’ll give us some pop at the end of the lineup.

"Fields is solid at third base and he can swing the bat. Keaton, Fields, and Collins all have good gloves."

Junior Josh Wheeler is the backup at catcher, junior Brandon Stevens is behind McClean at shortstop, and junior Joe Sark is another possibility in the outfield.

Junior Scott Lewis backs up Fields at third base and Jones said "he has a real good arm and he plugs up everything hit his way. He may back up at first base, too."

If the lineup gets set, the pitching staff should be more than capable led by Keaton and Fields.

Also in the mix will be Young, McClean, Josh Keaton, Nathan Webb, and sophomore Eric Tackett.

"This is the most depth we’ve had since I’ve been here as far as guys who can throw. They all throw strikes and they will keep us in the game if we play defense," said Jones.

In the Ohio Valley Conference race, Jones thinks the race is wide-open.

"I don’t think anyone is going to be above anyone else. South Point lost a bunch of seniors, but they’ve got some good kids and Bob (Lester) has always done a good job. I think everyone has a chance to beat anyone else," said Jones.