Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Replacing graduated seniors is a tough fact that every high school coach must face at the end of each season. Clay City baseball coach Vance Edmondson is no different and the Eels lost eight seniors from a team that finished 9-11 last year.
On the positive side, few of those seniors saw significant varsity innings, which is a big positive heading into the 2011 season. However, two of those seniors saw the bulk of the time on the mound and how their replacements perform is pivotal in how successful Clay City is this season according to Edmondson.
"We've got Brylan Jones back and he pitched well and beat Union (Dugger) in the sectional," Edmondson said. "(Jake) Tiefel will get a lot of innings with Kole Smith getting a lot of innings too. Ben Denker will see some time and Wyatt Gard will pitch some."
Jones threw 12 1/3 innings during the regular season with a 1-1 record and a 2.27 ERA, allowing four earned runs, striking out 12 and walking nine. However, his defense didn't help him as much, giving up 13 unearned runs. However, in the sectional victory against Dugger, Jones allowed only five hits, struck out eight and walked just one in a seven inning, 7-1 victory.
Smith struggled some in his 8 2/3 innings of work, allowing 10 hits and 16 earned runs and 15 walks, but he has added a year of experience as did Denker, who produced a 6.39 ERA over 7 2/3 innings with 13 walks and 11 strikeouts. Tiefel did not play last year, but returns to add some depth to the squad.
Another player returning to the fold is sophomore catcher Zach Boggs, who missed most of the season last year after arm surgery. He could help offset some of the graduated offense as he hit .412 over 17 at-bats with a pair of doubles.
"It'll be nice to get him back and hopefully keep him healthy," Edmondson said. "He was one of our leading hitters over the first six to eight games last year."
The team's leading hitter also returns as Tyler Bridgewater is back for his senior year after banging out a .537 average with eight home runs and driving in 25 for the Eels. He slugged 1.074 while reaching base more than 70% of the time.
Denker saw time at catcher last year for the Eels, but will likely see innings elsewhere with Boggs' return. He hit .358 and gives Clay City some speed with his 10 stolen bases last year.
Tanner Persinger played in the outfield and at second base last year and returns for his senior year after hitting .333 with 11 RBI and scoring 11 times. He is joined by Smith, who struggled some at the plate (.196), but still reached base nearly 40 percent of the time while manning one of the outfield spots. He also tied Denker with four sacrifices on the year.
Colton Harbour will likely man first base after hitting .300 in 30 at-bats.
"We've got some pieces to build around," Edmondson said. "It'll be hard to replace A.J. (Evans) and D.J. (Newton), but we have (Tyler) Bridgewater back and if we can get some good pitching and play some defense behind them, we'll be alright. We've got some pieces to build around."
The Eels open up the season on Tuesday, April 5 at home against county rival Northview beginning at 5 p.m.
2011 Clay City High School Boys Baseball Schedule
|Tue. 4/5||vs Northview HS (Var/JV)||5 p.m.|
|Sat. 4/9||vs Sullivan High School (Var/JV)||10 p.m.|
|Mon. 4/11||at North Daviess (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Tue. 4/12||vs North Central (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 4/14||vs White River Valley (Var/JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Mon. 4/18||at Eastern (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Tue. 4/19||at North Central (JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 4/21||vs Linton (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Fri. 4/22||at Owen Valley (JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Sat. 4/23||at Turkey Run (Var/JV)||11 a.m.|
|Mon. 4/25||vs Vincennes Rivet (Var)||5 p.m.|
|Tue. 4/26||at Bloomfield (Var/JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 4/28||vs Rockville (Var)||4:45 p.m.|
|Fri. 4/29||vs Eminence (Var)||5 p.m.|
|Mon. 5/2||at Shakamak (Var/JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Tue. 5/3||at Linton (JV-DH)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 5/5||vs Union (Dugger) (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Mon. 5/9||at Riverton Parke (Var/JV)||4:30 p.m.|
|Tue. 5/10||at Cloverdale (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 5/12||at West Vigo (Var)||5 p.m.|
|Tue. 5/17||at Owen Valley (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 5/19||vs Washington Catholic (Var)||5 p.m.|
|Sat. 5/21||at Linton JV BA Tournament||10 a.m.|
|Tue. 5/24||at South Putnam (Var)||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. 5/26||at Sectional||TBA|
|Fri. 5/27||at Sectional||TBA|
|Sat. 5/28||at Sectional||TBA|
|Mon. 5/30||at Sectional||TBA|