Rebels reload for another run

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back for more: Thorsby’s Jace Maddox takes batting practice Thursday while teammates look on. Maddox is one of many returning starters for the Rebels as they look toward another deep playoff run.

Not many baseball teams can lose their starting shortstop, centerfielder and first baseman, leadoff hitter, No. 3 hitter, and No. 2 pitcher and feel better about themselves going into the next season.

It’s nothing against the Thorsby seniors from 2010 (Brantley Bice, Evan Bryan, Joseph Prather and Cory Woodall), but the optimism is a testament to the kind of depth the Rebels have developed under Coach Ab Argent.

“The thing we want is for this group of seniors to pick up where last year’s seniors left off,” Argent said.

Where last year’s seniors left off is the quarterfinal round the Class 2A state playoffs, a place this year’s Rebels would like to get back to.

The pieces seem to be in place.

The squad features a deep group of seniors in Shane Beam, Tanner Bush, Cody Carroll, Blake Elkins, Andrew Farris and Wesley Smitherman.

Carroll is The Clanton Advertiser’s reigning Player of the Year for his outstanding work on the mound last year. Carroll compiled a 12-2 record with a 1.85 earned run average and 96 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings pitched.

A deep pitching staff will also include Stephen Mims, Jason Price, Beam, Bo Hoffman, Brantley Maddox and Matt Morgan.

There are holes to fill, though.

Parker Bryan and Jace Maddox are competing to replace Bice at shortstop, though Maddox can also play in the outfield.

Mims and Stuart Scott could replace Evan Bryan in centerfield or play leftfield. Bush and Jace Maddox are returning starters in the outfield from last season.

The batting order, meanwhile, changes in Argent’s head every day.

“We may play a different lineup until we find who wants to take over,” he said.

Too many players to fill too few spots is a good problem to have.

“We’re about as deep as we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Argent said. “It’s a new year, a new opportunity, a new challenge.”