McCrory:New conference brings new competition for Jaguars

Wendy Miller Published March 10, 2013 at 6:00 a.m.
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McCrory Jaguars baseball coach Glen Campbell will begin his 17th year with McCrory as he leads his team from the 2A-6 conference into the 2A-3 conference this season.

With the move to a new conference, the Jaguars will not only see more conference games but will take on new opponents that the team might not have faced on the field.

“I’m pretty sure all of the teams stand out [as competition] for us because we haven’t played many of them,” Campbell said. “We have played a couple of them in the past, but probably Buffalo Island Central, Marmaduke and Marked Tree will be tough. We’re excited about the challenge of being the new kid in the league.”

Last year, the Jaguars finished with a 19-7 record, losing in the first round of regionals to Poyen, but Campbell said he believes the team had the chance to go even further.

“Last year went good,” he said. “We kind of slacked up in the end, and we didn’t go as far as we thought we had a chance to.”

The team will return six starters this year and will look to two returning pitchers who will help the team: junior Logan Briley and senior D.J. Horton.

“We will have those two pitchers returning this season that we will rely on quite a bit,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the team will count on some ninth-graders to start, but he is confident that even as a young squad, the Jaguars will come together as a team and be contenders in their new conference.

“I’m very excited, and we’ve got a young team, but most of them I have coached in the summer and since they were 6,” he added. “We’ve got just a young team, and we are trying to focus on being a team.”

Best Hitter for Average: Campbell said sophomore shortstop Connor Bean will be the best hitter for average this season, but the team will also depend on younger players.

“We’re looking to rely on three young ninth-graders — Cade Campbell, catcher and pitcher; Chase Whitehead, first baseman; and Kaigen Rogo, infielder and pitcher.”

Campbell also mentioned that junior Ty McFadden and senior Shaun Danberry, both designated hitters and backup catchers, will also be driving forces for the team.

Best Power Hitter: Danberry: “We’re going to count on him to drive in runs,” the coach said.

Best Speed: Senior center fielder Garrett Browning will be the team’s “leadoff guy” this season, Campbell said. Rogo will also help the team with great speed. “We’re relying on them to be on base when the hitters come up,” he added.

Best Fielder: Campbell said Bean will be a great asset to the team in the field this season. “He has big shoes to fill because we lost a four-year starter at shortstop, which was a high school all-American,” Campbell added. “He’s got some shoes to fill, and we are counting on him to fill them.”

Best Arm: Campbell said he didn’t want to single out any one player simply because the team will depend on multiple pitchers. “We’ve got four or five pitchers we are going to rely on,” he said.

Overall, and even with quite a few cleats to fill, Campbell said his team is ready for the season and will count on versatile players to carry the team throughout the season.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that we are trying to fill nine spots with, but those nine spots are going to change on a daily basis depending on who we have pitching,” Campbell said. “We’ve got backup people that can move in and play different positions, but the focus needs to be on the team and whatever job you have that day, thinking, ‘I’ve got to go do that job.’”

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