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The 2011 Red Devil Varsity Baseball team “is a young team with a very sour taste in their mouths from last season,” said Head Coach Jim Smith. “We just are not used to sitting at home when the state playoffs are going on.”
Smith was referring to the 2010 Red Devil team that failed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
This is the motivation tool for the seven returning varsity players that have a ton of talent and gained a lot of valuable experience last season.
The only set back for this year’s team, is the loss of junior Max White to shoulder surgery. White had an outstanding sophomore season last year in the field, on the mound and with the bat for the Red Devils.
“We should be a strong team defensively in the middle with Austin Etheridge at second base and Connor Clayton at short stop. Both of these juniors are healthy going into this year,” Smith said. “They bring experience and leadership to the team.”
“At first base will be junior Christian Morris, and at third base will be junior Justin Baker covering the infield corners with solid defense. Morris and Baker also have outstanding power with the bat on the offensive side as well,” Smith said.
“Bradley Jones, a junior at catcher, is one of the best catchers in the area,” Smith said.
The Red Devils will have four new faces in the outfield who Smith expects to improve with every game. Sophomore Dillon Moody, junior Covin Terrell, and junior Jarred Caswell will be challenged by Deshaun King, one of just two seniors on the roster, for playing time.
“Our outfield will be skilled and athletic but inexperienced,” Smith continued.
The pitching staff will consist of five juniors and two sophomores, all of whom will see action from the mound.
Juniors Morris, Baker, Clayton, Etheridge, and Terrell, along with sophomores Dylan Blalock, and Justin Forsythe, will handle the pitching duties for the Red Devils.
“Our returning players return this year having learned a valuable lesson last season,” Smith said. “You don’t just show up. You have to play to a standard of excellence every game,” Smith concluded.
“This team has excellent chemistry, and we have a talented JV team that four players will see some varsity time later in the season,” Smith said.
The Red Devils first home game is Feb. 15, against old rival Chiefland. The JV game starts at 4:30 p.m, and the varsity game at 7 p.m.