2012 MARLBORO COUNTY BASEBALL SPRING PREVIEW
Every baseball season is a new opportunity. You can build on last season’s success, or put its failures behind and start over again. Building on last season’s success will be the Bulldog’s mission statement for this upcoming season.
The Marlboro County Bulldogs won 10 games last season but with two close playoff losses; both ending with one-run losses to Cane Bay (1-0) and the other with conference rival Hartsville (5-4 extra innings) in the AAA Lower-State playoffs. The Bulldogs have lost five Sr.’s from last season’s team, with the graduation of ace pitcher Beau Dees currently a freshman at Presbyterian College and clutch hitting SS Tyler Nolan currently a freshman at St. Andrews College. The Bulldog’s will look to a new cast of players to fill the vacancies.
Several returning starters will be expected to lead the Bulldogs this season. Returning junior, Sam Pruitt, will provide experience at third base along with a transfer from North Carolina, Johnny Strickland (Jr.). Pruitt and Strickland will share time there, and on the mound. The lone Sr. this season, Ryan Janssen, a utility guy in the past, has found a permanent home at shortstop. Ryan’s counter partner up the middle will be junior, Jimmy Miller, at second base. At first base, sophomores Connar Pate and Dylan Ellis will be expected to fill in, when not on the mound. Other infielders expected to contribute are, Justin Jacobs (sophomore) and second basemen Caleb Williams (8th grade).
In the outfield, the Bulldogs have two starters returning in right fielder Daniel “Tiger” Lewis (sophomore), and left fielder Spencer Odom (Junior). Odom and Lewis look to improve on an excellent 2011 season defensively and offensively. The center fielder will be selected from a group of strong defensive players including newcomer Nick Rogers (freshman) and returner Rodney McCoy (Junior). Juniors, Timothy Moses and Blade Smith will share time in Left field.
The Bulldogs pitching staff should be stronger this season with five players to log quality innings this season. Juniors Sam Pruitt and Jimmy Miller had a solid sophomore season and are expected to have a good junior season. Junior Johnny Strickland has the chance to step into either a starting or closing role this season with his experience. Sophomore Connar Pate had an excellent year on the mound last year while splitting time between the JV and varsity teams. Pruitt has the strongest arm on the team and could be a major factor in the Bulldogs 2012 season.
The pitchers will be throwing to a new starting catcher this season, with junior Hunter English replacing veteran catcher Zack Odom, a freshman at Francis Marion University, and freshman Colt Springs, being the most likely candidate to back up English behind the dish.
After losing two tough road games in the playoffs last season, this year's Bulldogs team has set a goal to keep climbing every day. The Bulldogs are coached by Head Coach Phillip Blue in his 5th season, Pitching/Assistant Coach Richie Brown (5th season), and Assistant Coach Tony “TJ” Graham (5th season).