The Perryville Mustangs are taking plenty of experience with them as they make the move to the 3A-5 Conference.
The Mustangs, who were members of the 3A-2 Conference last season, have all but two starters back from last year’s team, which was ousted by Lincoln in the first round of the Region 4 tournament. Needless to say, there is a great deal of experience, led by a group of six seniors.
That also helps solidify the identity of the team, which wasn’t so certain last year.
“We have strong senior leadership this year,” assistant coach Erik Hawkins said, speaking on behalf of head coach Jason Wilson, who was battling the flu. “One of the biggest differences this year is the guys know what to do. Last year, we had to move people around a lot. Now they’re getting a lot more reps at one position.”
Hawkins said the upperclassmen are helping that process, as the guidance the seniors provide to the team has proven beneficial.
“They look more comfortable at their positions, being this is the second year they’ve played those positions,” Hawkins said. “We just look more comfortable as a team.”
That’s no doubt a good thing, as the caliber of teams in the 3A-5 Conference is strong, Hawkins said.
“Playing in this conference will be a great challenge,” he said. “This will help show us where we are and how we stack up against some of the best high school teams in Arkansas.”
Best Hitter for Average: Hawkins said the lineup is solid throughout, as the team hit more than .300 last season. He said, however, that Eric Moore is one of the best contact hitters on the team.
Best Power Hitter: Junior Cole Sutherland provides the most pop, Hawkins said, but senior John Stidham can hit for power, too.
Best Speed: Sophomore Trent Tindell, who played on the varsity team last season as a freshman, has the best speed, Hawkins said.
Best Arm: Lane Trent, Stidham and Corbitt Williams will see the bulk of the time on the mound.
Best Fielder: Hawkins said Stidham, who also plays catcher, is the heart and soul of defense for the team.
With the leadership and more familiarity with their respective positions, this group of Mustangs is one Hawkins hopes can advance further than any other team in school history. While that won’t be an easy task to achieve, Hawkins believes it is attainable.
“There’s a lot of potential with this team.” Hawkins said. “The coaching staff believes in them. The main thing is how hard they’re willing to work and go the extra mile.”