Mayflower coach Joe Allbritton has been around long enough — 15 years at Conway St. Joseph and 12 as the Eagles’ head coach — to know when a team is good.
He said there’s a lot in the Eagles’ favor this year.
“We’re only losing one starter,” Allbritton said.
Last year, he said, a majority of the starters were sophomores and a few freshmen.
“I don’t want to be too optimistic, but we do have everybody back,” he said, except for three players, two of them seniors.
The Eagles had a 20-13 record last year and finished third in the 5-3A Conference, behind Glen Rose and Arkansas Baptist.
The Eagles lost in the first round of the state tournament.
Allbritton said he can’t help but wonder, “What if?”
What would have happened if his hot pitcher, Jordan Burns, hadn’t had a ruptured appendix two days before the state tournament?
“We messed around, and in the regional tournament, we drew Harding Academy in the first round,” Allbritton said. “They’re always very good, well coached ... with a good talent set.”
Burns pitched, and the Eagles won 5-1; then the Eagles lost two games.
“We drew Genoa Central in the first round of [the] state tournament,” Allbritton said.
The Eagles’ secret weapon was going to be Burns, an all-conference player.
“They were good, but we thought with this kid on the mound, we had a chance,” Allbritton said.
“When his appendix burst, we thought, ‘Oh, my gosh.’
“We made a good showing against them, and they eventually won the state tournament,” Allbritton said of Genoa.
Best Hitter for Average: “Last year, we had a center fielder named Tyler Herrin — he is back,” Allbritton said. Herrin hit .438 last year. “We’ve got quite a few kids who hit the ball well. Ty Fowler, who’s a senior, our right fielder, hit .342.”
Best Power Hitter: Allbritton said Trey Bradley, 6-3, 250 pounds, “can hit a baseball pretty hard. He’s a pretty good hitter for average, too. He’s tough to keep out of the lineup.”
Best Speed: The coach said the Eagles’ fastest is Herrin.
Best Fielder: Allbritton named catcher Michael Post. “This will be his third year as a starter, and he’s just a junior. I think he’ll be our best catcher in our conference, and he may be one of the best in the state in 3A,” Allbritton said. “To me, it’s the most important position on the field. A catcher makes or breaks your team.”
Best Arm: “I’m going to give it to Tyler Godwin. He’s got a very strong arm, and he’ll be one of our starting pitchers,” Allbritton said of the sophomore.
Godwin was the No. 2 conference starter last year. “We expect a lot from him,” the coach said.
Allbritton said practices are going well, so he’s guardedly optimistic.
“They work hard,” he said. Allbritton also gave a shout out to returning player Derek Vickers, a senior, who isn’t a standout in any one statistical category, “but he may be the best on the team,” Allbritton said. “He’s our leader, our sets-by-example kid. He kind of sets the tone for us,” the coach said.
Allbritton said the team is deep, and if one player isn’t on his game, there are plenty others on the bench to call on.