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Titan baseball prepares for 12th Region title challenge

 

Sophomore Carter Devine had his eyes locked onto the pitch during an intrasquad scrimmage on Friday, Feb. 23. Devine will play an important role for the Titans this year both as a batter and pitcher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Warren

Herald Staff

Sports@harrodsburgherald.com

The days are lasting longer, the air is warmer, the birds are chirping and spring is fast approaching. Just one week prior to the equinox, a great Mercer County tradition will return, bringing fans outdoors to enjoy the sun and some of the best baseball in the 12th Region. In Cody Christopher’s first three seasons leading Mercer County Titans baseball, the Titans have achieved an impressive 79-30-1 record and finished in the top three of the 12th Region regular season rankings all three seasons. The postseason has been a different story though. Despite dominating three consecutive 46th District tournaments, the Titans have lost in the opening round of the regional tournament on three straight occasions.

The 2023 Titans graduated four players, one of which, Kentucky Wildcat Evan Hart, led the Titans on the mound and over the plate.

“It’s always tough to replace an SEC caliber pitcher on the mound, and also tough replacing Jono (Logdon) in the outfield,” said Christopher.

Sophomore Ayden Stephens is first on a long list of players Christopher expects to carry the load pitching for the Titans this spring. Stephens pitched 45.2 innings and earned an astonishing 1.38 ERA as a freshman. Carter Devine, Marshall Hart, Jeran Layton, Carter Ruehs, Will Johnson and Aaron May, a senior transfer from Burgin, will also get a shot early in the season. Andrew Tatum and Jackson Doughty will be given opportunities once they warm up their arms following basketball season.

Christopher has seen tremendous improvement throughout the off-season and pre-season.

“We have had a main focus on leadership, composure and culture. We are growing more mentally which is what we need the most,” said Christopher.

Some of the players who have progressed the most this offseason are sophomores Westin Irvin and Noah Worthington, as well as Devine, Stephens and Ruehs. Christopher added that Brady Peyton and Davis Tyler lead a solid freshman class and eighth grader Luke Adkins will play a huge role for the Titans this spring.

Johnson, a senior, batted a .316 last season and added 19 RBI. Johnson is also the only returning Titan who has hit a home run, and will lead the Titans at the plate along with Stephens (.327), Tatum (.293) and Devine (.275).

“They need to maintain composure, discipline and confidence. We have been working extremely hard on our offensive approach and mechanics. Once they just trust their swings and use the entire field we could see that average jump way up. We have a lot of speed, we just have to do what it takes to get on base,” said Christopher.

The Titans will play a remarkable 14 of their first 15 games in Harrodsburg including the season opener against Southwestern scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 11. The Titans play two home games against Pulaski County and Ballard on the first Saturday of the season, Mar. 16.

“Having the fans and community there to support is the backbone of this program. If we can pack the stands at our beautiful new complex, it just intimidates opponents, and helps these kids play a step better,” said Christopher.

Other notable matchups include a meeting with the Danville Admirals on Mar. 19, a home and away with District 46 opponent East Jessamine on Apr. 15-16, an opportunity for revenge against Garrard County on Apr. 29 and a season finale against Lexington Catholic on May 16.

When asked if he thought the Titans would get over the hump this season and challenge for the 12th Region Championship Christopher responded:

“That is the goal, we have the tools to do it. The 12th Region is always tough and the district will be extremely tough this year as well.”

 

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