After a 3-20 season in 2011, the Bulldog’s baseball team is entering the 2012 year with a new team and new attitude. “We really believe we can improve on our winning total from last year,” said Bulldog junior and ace pitcher Jared Robbins. “The most important thing is we keep improving as the season progresses. If we are able to do that the wins will come.”
With the loss of five seniors to graduation last season, the Bulldogs have only one senior on this year’s roster, center outfielder Austin Shewmaker. “I feel like being the only senior on the team, people are looking even more to me to step up and be the leader both vocally and with my play,” said Shewmaker.
While the Bulldogs are lucky to have their ace pitcher, Robbins, who won all three of the teams games last season back on the mound, their number two spot will have to be filled with the coaching staff keeping Shewmaker off the mound, and from behind the plate after suffering an injury in his elbow late last season. “I’ve been dying to get back on the mound, but the coaches haven’t given me a chance,” said Shewmaker.
Burgin head coach Greg Harlow explains moving Shewmaker to center field will make his team stronger in the long run.
“We lost our entire outfield from last year, so moving Austin (Shewmaker) to centerfield puts a strong and experienced player in a position,” said Harlow. “We’ve got some good young pitchers in Mason Myers and Hunter Harrison to relieve some of the pressure on Jared at the mound. Harrison will also take over behind the plate as our catcher. With him behind the plate, Austin (Shewmaker) in the outfield, and Mason (Myers) and Jared (Robbins) interchanging at second base, shortstop and the mound, we will be really strong definitively up the middle.”
While Harlow believes his team will be strong up the middle, they will have to address the same issues that plagued them last year, offense and depth.
“We’re going to have to do better with our bats and may have to play small ball in some cases to manufacture runs,” said Harlow. “With only eight high school players on the team, we will have to dip into our feeder program in the middle school to get some depth. This is definitely one of the youngest teams we’ve had at Burgin, so they’re going to have to grow up fast.”
Outside of their one senior on the roster, the Bulldogs also field two juniors, four sophomores and one freshman along with a handful of middle schoolers. The Bulldogs were outscored nearly three to one last year averaging 3.4 runs a game while giving up 9.5 runs.
“We haven’t talked a lot about goals as a team this season. We are just going to take it game by game with the goal of being competitive every time we take the field and working on improving every day,” said Harlow.
The Bulldogs kickoff their season Friday, Mar. 16, taking on the Rebels of Owen County. The Rebels finished the 2011 season with a 10-17-1 record and lost no seniors from last year’s team.