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High hopes for Pioneer baseball
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I’m a little rusty with my baseball terminology, this being my first baseball article of the season, so it may take me a few paragraphs to get in the swing.
I think if I focus on my mechanics, and generate enough pencil speed, I can write a piece about Warren County baseball that’s a grand slam.
Optimism is soaring in Pioneer Nation when it comes to the WCHS baseball team. I’ve talked to several fans who think this year’s action on the diamond could be a real gem thanks to a roster that returns most of the key contributors from last season.
The defense should be stout, bolstered by an outfield that’s as fast as a roller coaster. That speed will transfer to the bases when the Pioneers are at bat.
“We’re definitely going to put pressure on other teams with bunting and running,” said WCHS coach Adam Childs. “We’re not a home run-hitting team.”
From the plate, Colby Elkins returns as one of the hardest hitters in the district, highlighting an offense which should have plenty of punching power. The largest question mark surrounds pitching where the Pioneers have a number of capable arms, but lack a true, shutdown ace.
“We have all our pitching coming back with one more year of experience so we should be improved,” said coach Childs.
Warren County has pitchers who can get batters out. Returning from last year are Noah Fann, Tyler Hollingsworth, Brooks Helton, Tyler Prater and Trevor Collins. With a pitch count in effect limiting how many pitches a player can throw per game, teams are going to need a stable of quality pitchers to make it through the district.
Going around the diamond, Elkins returns at 3B, Taisei Yasunaga at SS, Lucas Rogers at 2B and Wesley Jennings at 1B. Nick Williamson is the catcher, a spot where Trayton Rackley will also see time. Other infielders mentioned by Childs include 1B Will Cantrell and middle infielder Tyler Prater.
The outfield includes Cole Estes in RF, Isaac Golden in CF, Ethan Smith in LF and Peyton Norris serving as a utility outfielder capable of filling any of those three spots.
Yasunaga and Estes are a formidable pair at the top of the lineup. Childs says they both get on base about 50 percent of the time, putting runners in place for the heart of the batting order.
“We have fewer holes in the lineup than we’ve ever had before,” said coach Childs. “We have nine guys with a good shot of getting on base and we have the most speed we’ve ever had.”
I look for this to be the year Warren County knocks Cookeville from the district throne and claims the top spot.