2008 High School Baseball Preview

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Seventeen teams will compete in baseball this season in Shelby County.

BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN LIONSAHSAA Class 5A, Area 7Head Coach: Lee HallLast Season: 22-15, Second RoundRoster: Ben Bracewell, Brett Conner, Debo Crew, Tanner Cunningham, Josh Fields, Austin Lankford, Jonathan Logan, Paul McKelvey, Ty Nash, Conner Norton, Kyle Ogard, Adam Russell, Evan Simmons, Steven Spratt and Ben Thomas. Season Outlook: Only three experienced players return this season, which may cause a slow start, but head coach Lee Hall hopes experience will be gained as the season goes on, as the Lions look for another playoff trip.

CALERA EAGLESAHSAA Class 3A, Area 7Head Coach: Stephen FloydLast Season: 13-10, Second RoundRoster: Chris Anderson, Danny Barefield, Ryan Clemmons, Jeremy Compton, Justin Cupp, Stephen Floyd, Kwame Gilmore, Wade Hyde, Zac Isbell, Austin Jenkins, Jason Kervin, Trent Posey, Brock Russell, Nathan Storey, Matt Tracy, Adam Winterbottom and Paul Winterbottom. Season Outlook: Head coach Stephen Floyd is expecting this year’s team, consisting of seven returning starters, to be the most talented group, from top to bottom, that he has ever had.

CHELSEA HORNETSAHSAA Class 5A, Area 6Head Coach: Jason SmithLast Season: 18-19Roster: Josh Ankesheiln, Cody Bell, Jake Birdsong, John Calhoun, Jake Campbell, Carey Emmerke, Zek Grantham, Tres Gregg, Josh Harkins, Zach Harper, Phillip Heard, Zac Hilliard, Brandon Horton, Stephen Icolano, Kyle Latremore, John Michael Lawley, Eric McCoy, Blake McLaughlin, Justin Moore, Hunter Picklesimer, Dylan Rogers, Andrew Shaw, Harris Smith, Joey Stroede, Hunter Tinnell, William Wanniger, Morgan Williamson, Tyler Williamson, Blake Woo, Blake Yance and Matt Young. Season Outlook: Five juniors return as starters for the Hornets, who will rely on their pitching and defense as their strengths, while playing small ball on offense.

COOSA VALLEY REBELSAISA 1A, Region 1, Area 1Head Coach: Steven MackinLast Season: 26-11, State ChampionRoster: Brett Beggs, Bud Bliss, Zack Chain, Garrett Chatham, Ricky Ellison, Chase Herman, Gage Holmes, Brian Hurst, Chase Lacy, Whit Lovelady, Jeremy Masters, Garrett McMillan, Jake Milam, J.B. Ripley, Casey Shellnut, Christon Simmons, Josh Struizk and Tanner Wood. Season Outlook: CVA will look to return to its third-straight title game, but will have to replace both of its key pitchers in order to advance out of Region 1, Area 1.


Region 1, Area 1Head Coach: Tim SmithLast Season: 9-13Roster: Jordan Barret, Trey Benson, Lance Benton, Josh Dunnaway, Jacob Henderson, Kirk Johnson, Grant Martin, Chase Payne, Zach Ray, Pokey Reece, Tyler Robertson, Patrick Shaw, Cory Woodall and Seth Woody. Season Outlook: Tim Smith takes over a Chargers team that has improved in the field from last season, but will have to battle every day for a shot at the playoffs.

EVANGEL CHRISTIAN LIGHTNINGICSGAHead Coach: Greg MularskyLast Season: 9-6Roster: Seth Bowman, Ethan Efferson, Andy Entrekin, Michael Entrekin, Grant Etheredge, Henry Foster, Stephen Kirkland, Roecker Melick, Micah Mularsky, A.J. Richardson, Jacob Snuggs, Caleb Talley and Dillon Watts. Season Outlook: First-year coach Greg Mularsky returns seven lettermen from last year’s team that finished third in the ICSGA.

HOPE CHRISTIAN EAGLESNCSCHead Coach: Bruce SwindalLast Season: 5-14Roster: Joshua Arnold, Kaleb Arnold, Vince Bonner, Nathan Clark, Adam Davis, Joseph Fuller, Glyn Glover, Caleb Gordon, Brett Hand, Matthew Kite, Aaron Mahan, Luke Mahan, Kenneth Norris, James Richardson, Bradley Swindal, Joshua Swindal, Brandon Thomas, Daniel Wertz and Stephen Young. Season Outlook: Hope Christian’s second season as a program will hinge on the pitching over Vince Bonner, Brandon Thomas, Bradley Swindal and Brett Hand.

INDIAN SPRINGSAHSAA 3A, Area 7Head Coach: Brian LampLast Season: 7-8Roster: Patrick Belacruz, Che Lee, Stewart Lewis, Sam Morris, Will Smith, Ben Wallace, Philip Ward, Jake Woodham and Matt Woodham. Season Outlook: Springs returns four starters and only one senior, as many players are having to learn new positions. Look for Ward to be the ace on the mound.

KINGWOOD CHRISTIAN LIONSAISA 2A, Region 2, Area 2Head Coach: John AllenLast Season: 12-11Roster: Brad Acre, Nathan Allen, Rob Cotney, Kyle Crocker, Justin Dickinson, Kelly Gray, Jeremy Helfinstine, Nathan Pearce, Caleb Pickett, Ben Pockstaller, Taylor Sims, Cam Spinks, Tyler Stapleton, Andrew Steele, Tyler Wills and Andrew Wood. Season Outlook: Kingwood has a tested team consisting of six seniors, seven juniors and only three sophomores. Although the Lions struggled to a record just above .500 last year, look for Kingwood to break through this season with a deep run into the playoffs.

MONTEVALLO BULLDOGSAHSAA Class 3A, Area 6Head Coach: Brent McCalebLast Season: 10-9, First RoundRoster: Josh Anderson, Patrick Baugh, Tanner Bush, Garren Callahan, Keith Hill, Brandon Lilly, Dallas Lucas, Sam Nathews, Stone Pritchett, Jeff Roper, Ethan Staab, Lee Walker and Tyler Wilson. Season Outlook: The young Bulldogs will be depending on at least four freshmen to step up as starters and have more pitching depth this season than last.

OAK MOUNTAIN EAGLESAHSAA Class 6A, Area 11Head Coach: Tommy YoungbloodLast Season: 29-11, First RoundRoster: Cary Baxter, Peter Boehme, John Bolt, Logan Coffee, Cory Collins, Michael Connell, Drew Dennis, Chase Edge, Jake Epperson, Luke Flemming, Jake Gayle, Mason Hammond, Byron Kelley, Clay Kyzar, Thomas Locklin, Nathan Moore, Barrett Paulk, Drew Raley, Blaine Rosenberg, Austin Sockwell, Matt Stroup and Chase Traffica. Season Outlook: While Oak Mountain lost a number of key players last year, it does not lack in talent as the Eagles look to make a run past the first round come May.

PELHAM PANTHERSAHSAA Class 6A, Area 10Head Coach: Jeff MauldinLast Season: 26-13, Second RoundRoster: Andrew Bishop, Michael Bishop, Todd Colbert, Keith Dickey, Austin Dubberly, Branden Fernandez, Andrew Hill, Alvin Hines, Trever Hodges, Matt Lawson, Heath McGuirk, Whit Millsap, Caleb Payne, Tyler Phelps, Hunter Ragsdale, Cody Rice, Wesley Rich, Ryan Roberts, Trae Santos, Patrick Sherer and Jack Wilson. Season Outlook: Pelham will look to buy into the Jeff Mauldin system for the second season, as it looks to repeat the area championship and ride the arm of senior pitcher Wesley Rich into the playoffs.


Region 1, Area 1Head Coach: Mark WindhamLast Season: 16-9, 1A Runner-upRoster: Paul Bailey, Chase Cleveland, Josh Fowler, Jake Fulgham, Steven Garcia, Brandon Horton, Cody Jones, Chad King, Brad Lovoy, Daniel Michael, Jeremy Ogles, Chase Rockco, Parke Rockco, Bobby Sexton, Austin Shelton, JoJo Tidmore and Colton Wingard. Season Outlook: The Raiders will be looking to make their fourth-straight trip to the 1A finals after falling to Coosa Valley last season. Their five seniors – Jake Fulgham, Brad Lovoy, JoJo Tidmore, Jeremy Ogles and Parke Rockco – are proven winners with a 58-19 overall record over the last three years.

SHELBY COUNTY WILDCATSAHSAA Class 5A, Area 6Head Coach: Shane BeasleyLast Season: 12-15Roster: Caleb Benton, Justin Blankenship, Ethan Boyles, Jared Brown, Graham Davis, Braton Dill, Andrew Harris, Blake Horton, Wesley Howard, Ethan Isbell, Kevin McNorton, Nick Sheffield, Cody Shields, Brennan Smith, Chris Tortorici, Jon Waldon and Nick Wingo. Season Outlook: Five starters return for the Wildcats, as they look to follow the lead of Braton Dill at the plate and on the mound. Dill and Justin Blankenship will lead the pitching staff. Graham Davis and Wesley Howard will lead at the plate.

SPAIN PARK JAGUARSAHSAA Class 6A, Area 11Head Coach: Will SmithLast Season: 23-14, First RoundRoster: Charlie Esskuchen, Thomas Gallo, Austin Green, Jordan Hoadley, Kameron Kendrick, Kevin Kloda, Jake Lee, Josh Magette, Frank Mullens, Ben Paternostro, Daniel Powell, Kevin Richardson, Matthew Rickels, Cody Sellers, Arthur Strauss, Chris Wadsworth, Hunter Walker, Evan Watkins, Drew Watson and Cameron White. Season Outlook: The Jags lost seven starters and their top three pitchers off last year’s playoff team, but have great depth with over half of the team being seniors. Josh Magette and Drew Watson are the only returning starters.

THOMPSON WARRIORSAHSAA Class 6A, Area 10Head Coach: Pat HamrickLast Season: 17-19, First RoundRoster: Phillip Adrey, Nick Bili, Jordon Chism, Ross Conn, Trent Franklin, Marshall Johnson, Corey Kimbrel, Matt Leverett, Trent Lucas, Blake McKenzie, Wilson Muller, Bradley Patton, Michael Powers, Alan Reeves, Daniel Rollins, Chase Selvage, Casey Smeraglia, Zach Smith, Ryan Terrell and Steven Ward. Season Outlook: After falling in the first round of the playoffs last season, Thompson returns all three outfielders – Alan Reeves, Corey Kimbrel and Jordon Chism – for the third-straight season in what should be one of the most tested outfields in all of Class 6A.

VINCENT YELLOW JACKETSAHSAA Class 2A, Area 7Head Coach: Dwight SpradleyLast Season: 22-3, First RoundRoster: Corey Deloach, Brett Frizzell, Chase Hoyle, Daniel Johnson, Zaid Kayyali, Jodd Moore, Jose Munez, Collin Spradley, Houston Waldrop, Scott Wallace, Tyler Watson, Jordan White, Taylor White and Chase Whitfield. Season Outlook: This will be a rebuilding year for Vincent as the Yellow Jackets have no seniors after losing one of its most experienced classes of recent years – the top two pitchers, the top three hitters and six starters to graduation.