Tigers to build on momentum

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back for more: Trevor Thomas is a member of a core group of juniors on the Chilton County baseball team that have several years of experience as a starter.

Chilton County High School’s 2012 baseball team is a contradiction: a young squad with plenty of experience.

Though there are only two seniors on the team—and one is a transfer—the Tigers will feature a core group of second- and third-year starters trying to build on the momentum created by a breakthrough performance in the playoffs last season.

“We’re still relatively young, but we’ve got lots of experience,” CCHS coach Josey Shannon. I’ve got juniors that have senior-type experience. I don’t think we’ll be rattled all that often.”

Only two seniors were lost off last year’s squads, but Chance Calloway and Adam Minor were perhaps the team’s best pitcher and hitter, respectively.

Minor spent some of his time as a designated hitter, so replacing him in the field shouldn’t be a problem even if finding another big bat isn’t so easy. Freshman Trent Bishop saw playing time at first base last season and will step into the role full time in 2012.

The rest of the infield looks like it has much of the past three seasons. Catcher Craig Headley, second baseman Tyler Crowson and third baseman Kipp Moore are all third-year starters, and shortstop J.D. Minor is a second-year starter.

Moore is a senior, Headley and Crowson are juniors and Minor is a sophomore.

Right fielder and junior Trevor Thomas is a third-year starter, junior outfielder Evan Moatts is familiar with his role and sophomore Blake Teel will see time at pitcher, third base and outfield.

Teel was the winning pitcher last year when the Tigers handed two-time defending state champion Spanish Fort its only playoff loss in the last two seasons, in a third-round game.

Shannon said the playoff run validated the message that hard work will eventually pay off.

“You start second guessing yourself after three years of ‘one-and-done,’” Shannon said of the Tigers being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of his first three seasons as coach. “What I think they realize is they’re not satisfied with last year. The third round is not the goal every year. It was great, but we want to try to win every game and go as far as we want to go.

“It motivated them, but I was worried they would just start thinking that’s a given (to advance every year in the playoffs), but I don’t see my guys having that kind of assumption.”

The team’s success could depend on the development of the pitching staff. Though there is experience to be found—junior Cameron Cummings, Teel and Thomas have been significant members of the last couple of staffs—it’s not easy to replace an ace like Calloway.

“Somebody is going to have to step up and take that role that Chance played for us last year, and I’d prefer it to be two or three guys. I think we’re going to swing it; we’re going to play pretty good defense. I’m just sitting around waiting on that pitching staff to find its identity. It might take a couple of games.”

Thomas is more effective in relief, which makes it imperative that first-year varsity pitcher Tyler Maddox grow into a third starter behind Cummings and Teel. Maddox has the physical make-up as a hard throwing 6’3”, 215-pounder.

Junior Forrest Knight and senior Sawyer Cahalane—a transfer from Isabella who can also play outfield, first base and catcher—will also see time on the mound.

“I really like our kids,” Shannon said. “They work extremely hard.”

2012 schedule

Feb. 20: vs. Central Phenix-City, Prattville at Prattville

Feb. 23: American Christian

Feb. 25: vs. Tallassee, Holtville at Tallassee

Feb. 28: Shelby Co.

March 3: Jemison, LAMP

March 9: at Calera

March 10: vs. Chelsea, Bibb Co. at Chelsea

March 12-17: Chilton County Tournament

March 20: Alabama Christian

March 23: St. James

March 27: Brookwood

March 29: at Brookwood

March 30-31: at Wetumpka Tournament

April 3: at Paul Bryant

April 5: Paul Bryant

April 7: Tallassee, Bibb Co.

April 9: Calera

April 10: at Central-Tuscaloosa

April 12: Central-Tuscaloosa

April 14: vs. Headland, Geneva at Geneva