As spring training gets underway for major league ballplayers, its time to spruce up the baseball diamond at Alexandrias high schools. Heres a preview of whats to come.
Titans new coach has experience
Few are first year head coaches without questions about their starting roster, but Jim Blair, skipper of the T.C. Williams Titans, knows he has a fair amount of experience to draw on.
Of the 15 players on his roster, 11 are upperclassmen. For Blair, who coached college ball at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, fielding a squad of guys with a few varsity at-bats under their belts is a welcome advantage.
Probably at this level at the varsity level the upper classmen and the experience they bring to the table [is the Titans greatest strength], Blair said. Their feet are wet. They have a better feel for the game and what to expect whereas for the young guys, its still all new to [them].
Expect seniors Travis Clark, catcher, and Steve Weidman, pitcher and right fielder, to lead T.C. in the dugout and on the diamond. Blair also has high expectations for senior Tim Trout, designated hitter and first baseman, especially at the plate.
When it comes to offense, as long as players like Trout are healthy and ready to play, Blair isnt worried.
Overall, were a pretty athletic team so that should help us generate some runs, and as far as an offensive standpoint, we have some guys who can put the ball in play and make pretty good contact, he said. As long as were moving offensively I think well do OK.
But staying healthy isnt as easy as it sounds. Former shortstop Doug Murphy will play second base this season after struggling with injuries. Senior Devin Trout also is battling back from an injury.
Still, The Titans boast a solid group of underclassmen ready and willing to take to the field. Blair is looking for Cameron Sullivan, a sophomore second baseman, to step up this season.
Alec Grosser, the right-handed sophomore who shined after stepping into Murphys shoes as T.C.s quarterback when the senior was sidelined with a concussion in the fall, is saddled with high hopes on the mound.
With Murphy sliding to second, sophomore Conor Cousins will find himself fielding balls from the shortstop position. Hes young, but Cousins has done well so far, Blair said.
Itll come down to seeing how Cousins holds up in varsity games.
Hes going to have to see varsity play, Blair said. He just needs to continue to improve. Hes very serviceable right now. Hell do the job defensively, but from an offensive standpoint he just lacks experience and thats probably the biggest weakness.
The Titans stumbled out of the gate to start the season, falling 4-8 to Battlefield High Monday night. They play Wakefield at home at 6 p.m., Thursday.
Ireton has depth
After a 4-22 rebuilding season, Bishop Ireton is off to a strong start, outdueling St. Stephens and St. Agnes 12-5 to begin their 2011 campaign.
The Cardinals early success is in large part due to their depth, said coach Michael Gallagher. For a club that normally sports an average of 14 players, theyve got 17 to work with this year.
Though only two are seniors, nine have varsity experience, Gallagher said.
We have some depth and some competition for positions at this point, which is a good thing, he said. Competition breeds improvement.
Look for juniors Jake Guttman and Andre Bladen to make some waves from the mound. Defensively and offensively, shortstop Brian Lewis, a junior, and second baseman William Jenkins, a senior, are expected to lead the squad this year.
Hes not worried about the teams relative youth. Its an advantage, given their experience, Gallagher said.
Were going to be young again, which is exciting, he said. I think were a much better team than we were last year and I anticipate well be better next year as well.
Ireton takes the field again Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at home against Gonzaga.
Despite dropping their first two games, St. Stephens and St. Agnes boys of summer have the tools to build a successful season, says coach Jim Supple.
With six returning players, five of them seniors, Supple is pleased at the experience his baseball squad can boast on the diamond. After falling first to Bishop Ireton and then watching as Paul VI shut the Saints out in a 10-0 win, Supple says they are still struggling to gel as a team.
I tell the guys every day, hitting is going to go up and down, it depends on who were seeing on the hill across from us, Supple said. Our defense and pitching need to be solid throughout. Weve struggled on the mound, but that will correct itself.
The Saints face Georgetown Day School at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, after the Times deadline, before taking on Riverdale Baptist on March 29.