After a season in which his program chimed in with a respectable mark in the team’s first year of existence, Maumelle coach Barrett Davis isn’t ready to belt out lofty expectations for the Hornets in 2013.
“We’re so young that’s it’s hard to say what we’re expecting,” the second-year coach said. “We’re looking OK right now, but when you’re depending on sophomores and juniors with one senior, you just never know.
“We’re hoping our young guys can step up, but we’ve got to develop them a little more.”
Maumelle went 19-5 and finished in the middle of the pack in the 7-4A Conference. But this season, realignment shipped the Hornets off to the 4-4A, where the games figure to be just as challenging as they were in 2012.
“To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the conference as a whole,” Davis said, “but I do know it’s going to be tough. I know how good Pottsville, Mena and Dover are because they all have great coaches. But we’re expecting all of the teams to be good.
“It’s going to be fun, though. We’ve just gotta take it one game at a time.”
Best hitter for average: With such a young ballclub, Davis is leaning heavily on a pair of juniors, catcher Walker Culp and utility player Tanner Kirby, to lead the Hornets’ hitting attack. “Walker’s changed his swing up a bit and has been hitting it real well,” Davis said. “And Tanner’s not blowing anyone away, but he’s very consistent and hitting it very well, so we’re expecting a lot out of them both.”
Best power hitter: Davis mentioned that junior Mason Quick may have the team’s fastest hands at the plate. “He gets a great deal of leverage on the ball,” he said. “He’s got a very quality swing, but it’s kind of risk and reward.” But Davis is also looking for big things out of first baseman Trey Koen, a 6-7, 240-pound junior. “He’s got ungodly power,” Davis explained. “If he makes contact, he can hit it a long ways. And he’s very athletic for his size.”
Best speed: Sophomore center fielder Kuron Summons is expected to be the Hornets’ top guy, not only on base, but in the field as well. “He’s our leadoff guy,” Davis said. “If he gets on base, I think there’s a good chance that he could do some things with his speed.”
Best fielder: The Hornets will depend on junior outfielder Ryan McCollough to make things happen in the field. “He’ll play everywhere,” Davis said, “but he’s also a threat everywhere.”
Best arm: Without a doubt, Davis knows that senior Jacob Hollingsworth will not only be one of his team’s leaders, but he’ll also be the Hornets’ ace on the pitching staff. “He’ll get recruited,” Davis said. “He played in every game last year, and he’s got a lot of experience. We feel comfortable with him out there.” Davis is also holding out hope that sophomore Chad Cox can return to form as well, after being diagnosed with cancer in early 2012. Davis said Cox batted a quiet .360 and led the team in runs batted in prior to his bout with lymphoma. “He’s cancer-free right now,” Davis said. “And I tell you what, if he gets his strength back all the way, he’ll be our best player. The way he approached the entire ordeal was just amazing. He’s a high-character guy, and he’ll be out there, ready to go.”