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By LARRY GOFFINET
CANNELTON—Cannelton once won four baseball sectionals in five years under the one-class system but hasn’t made a strong run at a title in the 16 years of class baseball.
However, sixth-year coach Mike Garrett thinks this year “will be our best shot to get one since I’ve been here.”
He bases that on the fact the Bulldogs have more experience and depth than they’ve had in years.
There are four seniors and five juniors on the 16-man roster. Seven lettered for last year’s 3-13 team and two others lettered two years ago but were at another school last year.
The team also has “quite a bit of speed at the top of the lineup with Brandon (Cook), Hunter (Herzog) and Tristan (Simmons),” said Garrett.
He plans to use that speed to try to manufacture some runs with bunts and stolen bases, as he is concerned about the team’s hitting.
“We’ll have problems scoring runs,” he said. “We’re going to do a lot of bunting this year.”
The Bulldogs may be able to win some low-scoring games because “our pitching shouldn’t be too bad,” said Garrett. “It’s probably the best we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
He listed Simmons, Larry Holman and Drake Duke as the team’s top three pitchers. Duke “has pretty good off-speed stuff.”
Jeff Kendall, the team’s only left-hander, “throws pretty hard” and could be a relief specialist, said Garrett.
Duke went 2-5 to lead the staff last year. Holman, who was slowed by a torn meniscus, went 1-5.
Duke and freshman Bailey Maffia will be the team’s catchers.
The infield will have Jayden Morris at first base, Bryce Garrett at second, Simmons at shortstop (Cook there when Simmons is pitching), and Holman at third. “Bailey may play a little third too,” said Mike Garrett.
Herzog will play center field and Cook will play one of the corner outfield spots when he’s not at shortstop.
Marvin Walls and Kendall are other outfield candidates.
The team’s defense “looks pretty good in practice,” Garrett said.
He also said the hitting has “been looking pretty good.” But he cautioned, “We’ve been hitting in the gym quite a bit” because of cold, wet weather this spring.
He said the team doesn’t have much power. “Tristan’s probably got some pop and Hunter hit a couple of home runs two years ago.”
The Class A sectional will be at Wood Memorial this spring. New Harmony, traditionally one of the weakest teams in it, closed its school last summer and has been replaced by a stronger Northeast Dubois squad in the sectional.
Still Garrett thinks the sectional “is pretty wide open this year. I think Wood Memorial and Tecumseh are a little down.”
For the Bulldogs to win the sectional, “we’ll have to score runs,” said Garrett. “And getting a good draw right out of the chute wouldn’t hurt.”