MOUNT VERNON — After three straight years of losing in the Division I Sectional Finals, Mount Vernon High School baseball coach Doug Savage believes this could be the year that the Yellow Jackets contend for another district championship. Coming off a 20-4 mark, this year’s team will look very different after graduating eight seniors. The core of returning players, however, is solid.
“There is a lot of baseball experience on our team,” Savage said. “We’ve got guys that have played for several years, all the way up from little league, and they’ve been successful at each level. Our returning guys won 20 games last season, and the guys we have coming up from junior varsity had a strong year. We have a long way to go, but we’ve got the makings of a good team.”
The 2010 varsity squad will be deep, with 10 seniors on the roster. There are 16 players total. Among the returners who saw significant playing time at the varsity level are Justin Edwards (1B/C), Kody Green (2B/3B), Robert Kane (CF/P), Russell Doup (RF/P), Kolton Wilson (SS) and Tad Glibert (2B).
“This is a really big senior class,” said Savage. “Normally, you have about a half dozen kids, but we’ve got what we would call an older team with the 10 seniors and four juniors. Fourteen of our 16 kids are upperclassman.
“The kids we have back from last year certainly have a head start on everything,” Savage continued. “They’ve got a lot of experience; a lot of them got a lot of innings and played vital roles in our team. We lost some key seniors who had really strong years for us last year, so we’ve got some holes to fill.”
Defensively, the Jackets should be strong. A typical infield lineup will have Edwards at first, Glibert at second, Wilson at short and Green at third. Then in the outfield, Doup, Kane and senior Alec Curry will go right to left. Seniors Willy Gallagher and Matt Boucher will fill in the outfield when Kane or Doup is on the mound.
Behind the plate, junior Ben Hoar is the leading candidate to replace Aaron Watts, but Gallagher, Boucher and Edwards could also see time handling the pitching staff.
“We are pretty well set position-wise,” said Savage. “Our two biggest question marks are pitching and catching, which are probably the two most important aspects of the game. Our pitching staff has guys that we can pick from, but as far as putting them on the mound and getting a batter out, we don’t know. Behind the plate, we have a hole to fill. The other seven positions, though, we could put a pretty experienced group out there.
“I think we have a lot of potential. Potential is a scary word because it means you haven’t done anything yet. We’ve got the making of a pretty good offensive team and a pretty solid defensive team.”
The Jacket pitching staff will be anchored by Kane, Doup and Hoar as the top three. Hoar saw several innings on the mound for the junior varsity team last year, while Kane went 3-1 with a 3.42 ERA last season.
“We’ve got Robert Kane and Russell Doup, who are both lefties,” said Savage. “They will both get innings for us. Tad Glibert might get some innings for us, and Kolton (Wilson) could step in if we needed someone on the mound. Shawn Maxwell is a sophomore, and we’re hoping he can get some innings for us. Ethan Abell and Tim Rainer could possibly get some innings for us as well. I think we have nine different guys that can throw. Of those nine, we’ve got to figure out four good ones. We’ve got to get it sorted out and figure out who our No. 1 is, who our No. 2 is, who our No. 3 is, etc.”
Other players who could help the Jackets this season are senior Derek Baker, junior Kenny Rucker and sophomore Riley Swanson.
Chemistry could be the thing that makes or breaks Mount Vernon this season. It was what brought the 2009 Jackets together, and Savage is hoping for a similar bonding this season.
“Last year, we had great chemistry; that was probably our best asset,” said Savage. “Every year it is different, though. You have a lot of the same guys, but you’ve some different guys sprinkled in there too, so our chemistry won’t be identical to what it was last year. Hopefully, we can get some good chemistry going once the season rolls around and we are playing several games.”