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Coal Grove pitchers must throw strikes

COAL GROVE — They may not be in a union, but the Coal Grove Hornets hope to go on strike this baseball season.

Oh, the Hornets don’t plan to sit out any games. Instead, coach John Jones is hoping for plenty of games to help get his pitching staff to throw strikes on a regular basis.

“We just need to throw strikes,” said Jones. “I’m hoping they’ll come around. Tyler (Allen) is the only one with any experience. Murphy is throwing harder. We don’t have anyone who is totally overpowering, but if we cut down on walks and put the ball in play.”

Allen will be joined on the mound by Zach Murphy, Alex Johnson, Shannon Goodwin, Wayne Sparks, Taylor Dean, Roger Ramey, Scott Harbolt and Greg Hall.

“We’ve got a lot of arms. Sparks could develop into a good pitcher. He keeps the ball down,” said Jones.

If the pitching holds up its end of the plan, Jones thinks the hitting and defense will pull its weight.

“Our hitting is better than it’s been in a few years. Our defense is going to be pretty good,” said Jones. “We were hurt by some losses, but I think we’ll be better in some spots.”

Dean will be the catcher unless he pitches or needs some time off to rest his arm. Shawn Stormes, the team’s lone senior, will fill in and share the catching duties.

Battling for the first base job are Ramey and Hall. Scott Harbolt figures to be at second base with Murphy, a solid glove man, handling most of the shortstop duties.

Sparks is the backup at shortstop and will fill in when Murphy pitches.

“Both of them can make the plays and they have good arms,” said Jones.

Matt Cooper is locked in at third base.

The outfield figures to start Goodwin in left field, Johnson in center and Daniel “Oakie” Haynes in right.

B.J. Harbot is the backup in left with Cash Hillier is behind Johnson in center.

“Johnson, Murphy and Goodwin and Dean are pretty good hitters. We’re more of a hard-hitting, contact-type of team. We’re not a real power team, but that’s hard to say right now. You never know,” said Jones.

Freshmen Mark Davidson and Drew Jenkins should lend backup help in the infield.

In the Ohio Valley Conference, Jones sees a wide-open race.

“Rock Hill could be strong, but South Point and Fairland have a lot back. I really don’t know who is the best team,” said Jones.