WCHS head coach Phillip King has to be facing one of the biggest challenges of his coaching career as he replaces 14 seniors on his 2022 baseball roster.
There could be a bench full of future all-state baseball players on the team, yet no one in his right mind wants to lose 90% to 100% of his starting lineup to graduation. There is no reason to think coach King cannot field a very successful team next spring. One player he has coming back is Layne Roberts, who was the 6-AAA Pitcher of the Year.
Roberts, who will be a senior, talked about the new team, “I’m feeling pretty optimistic about next season with this group of guys. I think we all have to put in the work this offseason to continue to get better. Many of us have been playing together this summer to build some chemistry. I just want us to be competitive and win some games.”
Several seniors in addition to Roberts had experience on last year’s team. Eli Kuykendall, Kyle Johnson, Briley Moore, and Curtlan George all saw playing time last season. They should all receive consideration to see time on the mound in addition to Roberts, who is expected to solidify the roster as the pitching ace.
There was a very active JV schedule last year that helped the Pioneer coaching staff develop players for the move up to varsity competition. Wesley Sherrell, a junior, has shown he can produce as a reliable pitcher and Easton Denning, a sophomore, is expected to compete for the job at first base. Jax King, a junior, has seen extensive time behind the plate during his baseball career.
One thing coach Phillip King focused on last season was getting as many players as possible daily reps pitching and hitting, even if they were not playing. As Roberts mentioned, plenty of his teammates are playing a lot of baseball games this summer that will help develop them as a team for next spring.
The Pioneer baseball team will be moving to a new district as are all high school Pioneer teams. The baseball team will be in a new District 6 with Coffee County, Franklin County and Shelbyville. It is a four-team district so the Pioneers will be playing a lot of non-district games.
Coach King scheduled strong non-district opponents this past season, and since the Pioneers are in a smaller district, King will be looking for even more non-district opponents for the 2022 season.