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Riverview: Riverview focuses on pitching after injuryPublished March 10, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
After three years at Riverview and 10 years coaching baseball, Larry Davison said this year’s baseball team is “one of the most self-motivated groups” that he’s had.
“They’re willing to stay longer and put more work in,” Davison said. “That’s going to pay off for them this year.”
Davison said the team will have more speed than in the past, and he expects a better defensive output. Though the team is fairly young, with six seniors and a heavy roster of freshman and sophomore players, Davison said several players have transferred in from Searcy High School and should provide some support. Although the team is young, Davison said, he sees the players putting in the extra work needed to improve quickly.
“The overall attitude and work ethic are really great this year,” Davison said. “They’re putting in extra work outside of practice.”
Pitching is an area of concern after an injury sidelined one of the team’s top pitchers from last season, junior Evan Mullins. Mullins threw around 60 innings for the team last year before aggravating an old shoulder injury over the summer. Davison described the injury as a big loss for the team.
“We’re searching to fill that void and pick up those innings, getting some new kids on the mound,” Davison said.
As the season moves forward, Davison said, the team will be looking at Harding Academy as the team to beat.
“We beat them last year for the first time, so they always set the standard and are who you’re shooting for,” Davison said.
The Raiders ended last season 18-15, and Davison, along with assistant coach Eric Wallace, hopes to see this year’s team surpass that record.
“We just had way too many errors last year that cost us some games,” Davison said. “If we can avoid that one inning here or there and not give up so many unearned runs, that’s going to be a big improvement.”
Best Hitter for Average: Davison described senior Cole Butler as a clinch hitter with good power and expects a big year from him. Senior Sidney Owens struggled at the plate last year with some of the “worst luck” Davison had seen. But the coach is looking for Owens to bounce back this season and provide the team with good runs.
Best Power Hitter: Butler is also one of the team’s best hitters for power. Furthermore, Davison said junior Ryan Rogers has been impressive with a bat, putting in plenty of extra work in the weight room.
Best Speed: Sophomore Stephan Puszewski brings speed to infield positions, while senior Dallas Johnson is the fastest on the team at center field.
Best Fielder: Sophomore catcher Travis Thompson earned all-conference recognition last season as a freshman, throwing out 15 base runners. Davison described Thompson as one of the best catchers he’s had the opportunity to coach.
Best Arm: After an injury in the pitching staff, Davison looks to senior Sidney Owens, along with Puszewski and Butler, to help “pick up the slack.”
Zoned Editions Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or email@example.com.