Hornets rely on depth, defense

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

COAL GROVE — There is strength in numbers.

Numbers are the key for the Coal Grove Hornets who will rely on depth to improve the pitching staff and hopefully last season’s 9-12 record.

The pitching staff is led by Randy Wise and includes Bryan Bryant, Andrew Christian, Eric Davidson, Zach Murphy, Alex Johnson, Taylor Dean and Tyler Allen.

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“We’re better than we have been in awhile because of our numbers. We’ve got four or five guys who are pretty close. They all have a decent fastball. They just need to develop a curveball. Randy probably stands out, but the rest are all right there,” Hornets coach John Jones said.

Jones said the team is better overall, but he approaches the season with a cautious optimism.

“We’re better athletically than we have been. We’re still young and we’re going to make some young mistakes. If we can minimize our breakdowns, we’ll have a chance in every game,” Jones said.

“Our outfield is better. They’re fundamentally sound and we have pretty good speed out there. And I think our infield is pretty good defensively.”

Wise, Bryant and Murphy will play a round-robin schedule defensively When one of the trio pitches, the other two will play shortstop and centerfield and they will rotate the process depending on who is pitching.

“We’ll move Randy to the outfield at times to rest his arm. Bryant is our centerfielder. With Murphy, those three will maintain the middle,” Jones said.

Allen will be at first base with Tyler Perry and Mark Robinson sharing the duties at second base. Tyler Branch will be the third baseman and fill in some at catcher.

“Perry is a fairly good glove. He’s a natural second baseman but he needs to get stronger,” Jones said.

Mason Schug will be the catcher and give the pitching staff solid receiver.

“Mason puts the ball in play, and he’s our catcher when his arm gets in shape. He strained a tendon early and it’s just getting back where it was,” Jones said.

Johnson will be in left field and Christian will man right field. Andy Smith will also get some playing time.

“Andy Smith has a pretty good stick and I’d like to get him in the lineup,” Jones said. “Johnson has a good arm. He’s a good athlete, he’s just young. Christian catches anything he can get to.”