Last year, the Bryant Hornets were 25-7 and took home the 2012 7A Championship. This season finds them in the 7A/6A South, facing rival Benton twice this season, and coach Kirk Bock said the competition will be up for their games against the Hornets.
“We won last year, lost in the finals in 2011 and won in 2010,” he said. “We won’t be surprising anyone on the schedule.”
It will be the Bryant players looking to see how this year will turn out, the coach said.
“We have a chance to be good defensively, but we have only one pitcher returning from last year.”
Best Hitter for Average: Jason Hastings, a sophomore playing in the outfield, is off to a fast start, hitting almost .700 in early games. “He can spray the ball around, so he is hard to defense,” coach Bock said.
Best Power Hitter: Blain Jackson, a senior catcher, will be a power source for the team this year, Bock said. “He is a big strong kid with gap-to-gap power,” the coach said. “We don’t harp on home runs; we only get a couple a year. We look for doubles. They keep an inning going.” Another power hitter for Bryant is Hayden Lessenberry, who is starting the season as the designated hitter because of a shoulder injury.
Best Speed: “We don’t try to steal a lot of bases, but we are fast around the base paths,” the coach said. He named Hayden Daniel, Marcus Wilson, Tyler Green and Trevor Ezell as some of the fastest runners. “They can go from first to third quickly, and they can get from second to home pretty good,” Bock said.
Best Arms: Nate Rutherford, 7-1 last year and the MVP of the state playoffs, is the only pitcher returning this year. Other pitchers on the team also play in the field, and how they line up for starts is still not worked out. Ty Harris is recovering from arm problems and should be pitching soon. Jason Hastings and Hayden Daniel will also get into the rotation.
The Bryant team appears in the MaxPreps Preseason National Baseball Rankings as the 90th high school team in America and the only nationally ranked team in Arkansas. Yet the coaches have some questions about the team after losing so many pitchers from last year. “We still have questions about the defense and how our pitching will go through the season,” Bock said.