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One of the biggest strengths for Pottsville this season is the return of its core starters.

“All six starters return, and those guys are battle-tested,” Pottsville head coach Greg Jones said. “They all played this summer for me, and they have come together, and they have gotten used to me.”

Jones returned to baseball last year after coaching softball for 11 years at Pottsville.

“This year, they know what to expect, and I think that is a strength,” Jones said of his players. “I know them better and their weaknesses, and putting them in spots to make them successful — that is a strength.”

Pottsville finished 22-5 last year, making it to the semifinals of the state tournament before losing to Shiloh Christian.

Returning this year is senior Ben Jones, the coach’s son, who finished with a batting average of .417. Ben scored 33 runs with 14 RBIs, 1 home run and 4 doubles. He also earned all-state honors.

“He is a consistent hitter and our leading average hitter,” Coach Jones said. “He is a left-handed swinger.”

Senior Kaleb Tramel, a fellow all-state honoree, returns this season after batting .357 in 2019 with 26 RBIs, 18 runs scored and 4 doubles.

“He is a real smart kid and a powerful kid,” Jones said. “He is our No. 1 pitcher, probably won nine games for us last year, so we feel good about that.

“He knows how to compete; he beat some good teams last year.”

Jones said Tramel has lost about

15 pounds during the offseason.

“He is working out every morning, lifting weights and running,” Jones said. “He is getting his body in better shape, and he’s more defined, and it is helping him as a hitter.

“He is also being more patient at the plate. I expect big things from him this year.”

Junior Caden Carothers will play first base, and the coach said Carothers is “a real strong kid.”

“He plays football for us, too, and he is trying to improve his hitting game and has been really good in the cage,” Jones said.

Freshmen Izzy Johnson and Aiden Owings may get to start in the early goings of the season, the coach said.

“Izzy is a little guy with explosive arm strength and a good glove,” Jones said. “He is an athletic kid who will help us this year.

“Aiden’s got a real good glove, but he needs to get stronger. Defensively, he is real solid right now.”

Jones said the team’s schedule includes games against Harrison, Monticello, Morrilton and Ozark, “all of which are ones to watch.”

“We expect to compete for a conference championship again this year,” Jones said.

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