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February 21, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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Page 2C 2018 SPRING SPORTS February 21, 2018 MARY PERSONS 2018 VARSITY BASEBALL TEAM: Pictured from left to right on the front row: Brian Buchanan, J.D. Richards, TJ. Sauls, Christian Knight, Jake Newton, Austin Mock, Aaron Mock and Hunter Powell. Pictured from left to righton the back row: head coach Ciae Mathis, Ladondre Buckner, Camden Claxton, Garrett James, Cameron Agnew, Conner Watson, Alex Kite, Trippe Moore, assistant coach Josh Ward and assistant coach Landon Sparks. Not pictured:Wyatt Currie, Donovan Hogan and Xavier Soule. (Photo/Richard Dumas) By Richard Dumas preferred brand of baseball,serve as the designated hit- forsyth@mymcr.net which emphasizes taking extra ter, and Knight ready to fill in bases, as needed. Mathis said Kite is With a senior-laden team in "Last year sometimes some among his most-improved hit- 2018, the Mary Persons base- guys looked like they were kind ters and will likely hit in the ball squad will pursue its goal of lost on some of the things cleanup spot after ending 2017 of winning the program's first we tried to do," Mathis said. with a clutch homer in the play- region title in seven years. "And this year they've had aoff series at Woodward. MP second-year head coach year of doing it, and now we've Mathis said of Kite: ' vVe've Clae Mathis said with 14 got more speed this year. Weworked on that swing, and he's returners from a 2017 team graduated some big boys, andvery confident right now. I look that won 19 games in Mathis' we don't have a ten of big boys for him to do some big things." initial season he has high hopes, replacing them. But for thatStarting along the infield will for his 2018 group, aggressive style of play that we be Knight at third base, Austin 'Cite biggest thing I think work on here, we think we'veMock at shortstop, Richards that will always be my goal is got the right guys this year." at second and Aaron Mock at to win a region championship," Mathis said his team has first base. Knight, who served Mathis said. "And do I think enough depth that the starting primarily as a designated hit- it's possible, yes 100 percent, lineup could have a number of ter in 2017, batted .292 with 15 I think we've got the guys to changes from game to game, RBIs. Austin Mock, who batted do it. Now again, it's a really especially depending upon .341 with 1 homer and 10 RBIs tough region because every- who is pitching. MP will have in 2017, will take over for last body's so even with each other to replace its top two starting year's team MVP, the gradu- that it's a coin flip to see who is pitchers from 2017 in Austinated Tyler Skelten, at shortstop going to do that. But I do feel Benson and Wes Freeman, and and in the No. 3 hole in the strongly about the possibility of Mathis will turn to a sopho-lineup. that, and that's definitely the more, Trippe Moore, to lead Mathis said of Austin Mock: goal. And not only that, you the rotation. Pitching mainly in had some guys tell me that definitely want to get past that relief in 2017, Moore compiled defensively he can do the same first round. They've gotta learn a 3-3 record with an impressing things that Tyler's been doing how to get past that to move 1.59 ERA, including 31 strike- the last several years. And I'm a forward." outs and 4 saves, firm believer in that I have 100 Among the returners are nine "He (Moore) definitely filled percent confidence that we're seniors with extensive play- that relief role nicely last year, not going to miss a beat there. ing experience in utility man and the biggest thing that Obviously, the experience is Cameron Agnew, outfielder kept him from being one of our one of those things. Tyler was a Brian Buchanan, second base- (No.) 1 or 2 starting guys is he big-time garner. He was a guy man J.D. Richards, catcher couldn't make it past that four you always wanted hitting in Jake Newton, pitcher T.J. or five-inning mark. And he's the clutch. But I think Austin Sauls, first baseman Austin got that heavy fastball, anddefensively is going to do every- Mock, third baseman Christian sometimes it runs out on him. thing Tyler did." Knight, outfielder Tre Slaton But I think this year he's going Richards, a two-year starter and outfielder Ladondre to be able to carry that load for at second base, will likely hit Buckner. Mathis said being us for sure." toward the top of the lineup swept at Woodward Academy in Joining Moore in the start- after a junior season in which the first round of the state play- ing rotation will be junior Alex he batted .318 with 10 RBIs offs in 2017 has only provided Kite, who will likely be theand 8 doubles. Aaron Mock, more motivation for his core team's s arting catcher whenwho Mathis said saved his group this season, he's not on the mound, junior squad with his defense at times "It left a really bad taste in Austin Mock, who will start at in 2017, will bat sixth after hit- everybody's mouth when we got shortstop.when he's not pitch- ting .407 with 18 RBIs last year beat like that," Mathis said. 'We ing, and Sauls. Having a deep in order to were going up to Woodward pitching staff will be especially see more fast- thinking we were going to upset important in 2018 with Region balls deeper them, and it didn't go our way. 2-AAAA going to a format that in the lineup. One of their guys had a big will require teams to play three- Providing series against us, and it kind of game region series over a short depth along made a lot of young guys real- span of five days. Mathis said the infield ize that the work that we put he'd like to have as many asis the versa- in last year, that's what it's got nine arms available and other tile Agnew, to be every year. And it's got to guys who will see time on the who started be more and more if we want to mound include: sophomore at shortstop keep doing more than to just be Conner Watson and a pair of in 2016 as a a first-round team. That's not varsity newcomers, junior left- sophomore. the goal ever. It was nice to get handers, Garrett James and Mathis said, back. But one-and-done is not Hunter Powell, who pitched on "Cam is one of the kindof success we want. We JV in 2017. those guys that don't want that to be the norm Mathis said with all the dif- literally when around here. We want to try to ferent arms, it helps to have we're taking make some deep runs." depth at the catcher position infield and out- Mathis said his 2018 squad, as well. Kite, who perhaps has field, he goes to which is more diminutive but the strongest throwing arm of about five dif- faster than a year ago, should the bunch, will start with the ferent spots." be better equipped to play his veterans Newton, who will also Along the 2018 MP JV Baseball Schedule DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME Feb. 28 Schley County Home 4 p.m. Feb. 28 Schley County Home 5:30 p.m. Mar. 6 Jones County Away 4:30 p.m. Mar. 6 Jones County Away, 5:55 p.m. Mar. 8 Veterans Home 4:15 p.m. Mar. 8 Veterans Home 5:55 p.m. Mar. 14 Crawford County Home 4:30 p.m. Mar. 15 Veterans Away 4:15 p.m. Mar. 15 Veterans Away 5:55 p.m. Mar. 21 Howard Home 4 p.m. Mar. 29 Crawford County Away 5 p.m. Apr. 9 Perry Home 4 p.m. Apr. 11 Perry Away 4 p.m. outfield, Moore will slide over to having to go that extra little from leftfield to centerfield as bit." a sophomore, replacing Dylan Among MP's top competi- Smith, who was a standout tion in Region 2-AAAA in 2018 both at the plate and in the will be perennial powers, West field a year ago. Moore, who Laurens and Perry, who have hit .370 with 12 RBIs and 16 several key returners. However, runs scored as a freshman, will Mathis said last season's tight also move up from the bottom region standings proved that of the lineup to Smith's former any of the six teams have a leadoff spot. Buckner, who was chance to take the crown. a reserve as a junior, is expect- '2 think we probably lost the ed to start in leftfield while most defensively and pitching," Watson, who was also a backup Mathis said. "But you saw the last year, will take over for scores last year. Everything was the graduated Colton Perkins one-run, two-run games. From in rightfield. Junior Camden the top to the bottom, there's Claxton, Sauls, Buchanan and not a lot of difference. Upson- Slaten, who missed pre-season Lee swept us and didn't make practices due to basketball, are the playoffs. That's crazy to expected to provide depth in the think about." outfield. Assisting Mathis in 2018 will Other varsity newcomers be Josh Ward, who comes to MP include: senior pinch running after coaching middle school in specialist Donovan Hogan and Houston County a year ago, and sophomore JV call-ups Wyatt Billy Stephens, who coached Currie and Xavier Soule. the c-team squad last year. Also All in all, Mathis said he's helping'out is local Fellowship excited about the potential of of Christian Athletes coordina- his 2018 squad, ter Landon Sparks while for- "People are going to think mer varsity assistant Michael we're probably not as talented Smallwood will move down to and that may be from an on- coach the c-team, which will looker looking in," Mathis said. be divided into two separate "But I think we can win just as squads this year because of many games, if not more, and increased numbers. hopefully do some better things Mathis said of the middle when it comes to finishing that school squads: ' here were so region. Focus was a big thing many guys that were on that last year. We should have not medium ground that you don't been a 4 seed. We beat teams wanna see them quit practic- early that nobody else was beat- ing, you don't wanna see them ing. And we wound up pulling : quit playing. Middle School I it together for one more series think plays about 12 or 13 and to sneak in by beating Spalding, then they're (D-Team) gonna who nobody else beat all year. play seven, so we've got a lot of So the talent is here. They baseball going to be played. All know how to win, but it's just of the middle school games are the folks have got to stay on it. gonna move over to this field They're not used to competitive this year, so this field there's ball in May. They're not used gonna be a lot going on." 2018 MP Varsity DATE Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 24 Feb. 27 Mar. 1 Mar. 5 Mar. 7 Mar. 10 Mar. 10 Mar. 12 Mar. 13 Mar. 16 Mar. 19 Mar. 21 Mar. 23 Mar. 26 Mar. 28 Mar. 30 Apr. 2 Apr. 4 Apr. 6 Apr. 9 Apr. 11 Apr. 13 Apr. 16 Apr. 18 Apr. 20 April 26-27 May 3-4 Schedule OPPONENT LOCATION TIME Eagles Landing Away 5:55 p.m. Northside (WR) Away 12:00 p.m. Northside (WR) Away 2:00 p.m. Jackson Away 5:55 p.m. Peach County Away 5:30 p.m. Central (Macon) Home 5:55 p.m. Morgan County Away 5:55 p.m. Jordan Away 12:00 p.m. Jordan Away 2:00 p.m. Central (Macon) Away 4:30 p.m. Eagles Landing Home 5:55 p.m. Jackson Home 5:55 p.m. Howard* Away 5:00 p.m. Howard* Home 5:55 p.m. Howard* Away 5:00 p.m. Spalding* Away 5:55 p.m. Spalding* Home 5:55 p.m. Spalding* Away 5:55 p.m. West Laurens* Away 5:55 p.m. West Laurens* Home 5:55 p.m. West Laurens* Away 5:55 p.m. Perry* Home 5:55 p.m. Perry* Away 5:55 p.m. Perry* Home 5:55 p.m. Upson-Lee* Home 5:55 p.m. Upson-Lee* Away 5:55 p.m. Upson-Lee* Home 5:55 p.m. (1st Round State) TBD TBD (2nd Round State) TBD TBD May 9-10 (Quarterfinals State) TBD TBD May 15-16 (Semifinals State)TBD TBD May 21-23 (Finals State) TBD TBD * Region 2-AAAA Games 4