Redmen look to improve defense, run production

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

PEDRO - Rock Hill Redmen coach Barry Litteral has only two things written on his "To Do" list: drive in runs and play good defense.

Those were weaknesses last season for the Redmen, but with nine lettermen return Litteral is hoping the experience will translate into marked improvement.

"We'll be solid, but we have to play better defense than we did last year. They're working hard at it," Litteral said. "And we have to be more aggressive at the plate."

Email newsletter signup

James Russell, David Schug, David Martin and Nathan Litteral all hit more than .300 last year while several others hovered near the key hitting mark.

"We should have better balance. We'll be able to do more things on the bases. We'll have more team speed. Pitchers will have to challenge us with the fastball or we'll steal a base. Our guys make good contact," coach Litteral said.

Litteral, Martin and Kyle Lewis have all been four-year starters. Schug would have been a four-year starter but he missed his sophomore year with an injury.

"This team believes it can win. They've been playing since they've been freshmen," coach Litteral said.

Another key for the Redmen will be the pitching. Seniors Matt Barnard and Sean Primm and junior Aaron Miller form the core of the staff with Schug, Litteral and freshmen K. C. Christian and T. J. Blagg getting some work.

"If we can get the ball over the plate, we'll be all right. We have three pitchers who will give us a solid effort every time out," coach Litteral said. "They don't have great speed, but they're consistent and they have good command of their pitchers.

"Matt Barnard is a bulldog. He'll give you inning after inning. Primm is the same way. Aaron is more of a finesse pitcher. Sam and Nathan will give us an inning or two where we need it. T. J. throws pretty hard and he throws strikes. We'll limit his innings. We'll bring the young kids along slowly."

Kyle Lewis will start at first base with Schug at second base, Litteral at short, and either Barnard and Primm playing third depending who is pitching.

The outfield will have Miller in left, Christian in center, and Sam Lewis back in right field. Russell, who started in left field last year, is coming off knee surgery and will be need more recovery time.

"Sam gives us a lot of defense in right. He's a three-year starter. He has deceptive speed and he can get to about anything hit his way. Christian has good speed in center and Miller and Russell can both run," coach Litteral said.

The catching duties will be shared by David Martin and Nathan Wagner.

'During the course of the year, you need to have a couple of catchers to keep from getting worn out," coach Litteral said.

Matt Wilson, a sophomore, could get some playing time either in the infield or outfield.

"He's my true utility player. He can play all four infield positions and anywhere in the outfield," coach Litteral said.

Also in the mix is speedy Micah Settle who coach Litteral said will "come off the bench and give us a threat on the bases."

In the Ohio Valley Conference, Litteral said every team has a legitimate shot at the title.

"I don't know anything about River Valley. They're the unknown. But as for everyone else, it's wide open," Coach Litteral said.

"South Point has a lot of players back. Fairland has the (Michael) Hill kid, (coach) John (Jones) always has a good team at Coal Grove, and Joe Waugh does a nice job at Chesapeake. It's going to be the most competitive league we've had in a long time."