Greenbrier Panthers baseball coach Terry May doesn’t expect, or want, a repeat of last year’s season.
“We had one of our worst years we’ve had in the last 10 or 15 years, recordwise,” he said.
May, in his 23rd year of coaching in the district, has seen all levels of teams.
“We’ve been [to the state tournament] 15 out of 23 years I’ve been here,” he said.
Last year, the team finished fifth in the conference, 5A West.
“Our conference is usually pretty good,” he said.
May said he started three to six freshmen last year, “and in our conference, you’re not going to be very good if you do that.”
Three seniors who graduated were starters, but all of last year’s freshmen are returning.
“I think this year, we’re going to be a lot better, overall. We’re still playing a lot of sophomores, and we’ve got three seniors — two pitchers and a catcher — and one junior returning, a pitcher/outfielder,” May said.
Best Hitter for Average: “This year, gosh, it’s hard to tell,” May said. “I’ve got three or four kids right now who are swinging it pretty good. Kyle Ferguson — he was probably our second or third leading hitter last year as a freshman, so we’re expecting good things from him this year.”
Best Power Hitter: May said Ferguson is on the list, as well as Ryan McKnight. “I’ve got one of my seniors — he’ll catch for us some this year, Jesse May (the coach’s son). He was an all-conference player as a sophomore. Last year, he kind of slumped. He was hurt last year; we’re hoping he can bounce back and have a good year for us. A couple more of our sophomores … Josh Walker, the third baseman, played a lot last year; Max Porter, he’s a sophomore; Dylan McDearman — they all started a bunch of games for us last year as freshmen.”
Best Speed: “We’re not blessed with just a bunch of speed,” coach May said, although he mentioned junior Jordan Patton. “We don’t have a bunch of slow guys, either. We’re all just average speed.”
Best Fielder: “That’d have to be [sophomore] Dylan McDearman,” May said. “He did a great job defensively [last season], and I have to feel he’ll do that again for us.”
Best Arm: May named his two senior pitchers, Spencer Blackstock and Cyle Denison. “Both those guys are left-handers, had a lot of experience for us. Hopefully, they can carry us this year armwise,” he said. Patton is another pitcher, and “several, several sophomores,” May said.
“I’ve got three seniors and one junior on the whole roster — that’s how young we are,” May said.
Despite a young team, May said, he is optimistic about this season.
“I think we’ll be right in the thick of things this year,” May said. “I expect us to be right in there battling, if not for the top spot, second, third or fourth, and we’re not counting out that top spot. That’s our goal, right there, to win the conference.”