Maplesville bats do damage against Verbena

Published 5:22 pm Monday, February 20, 2017

The 2017 baseball season opened with a bang for the Maplesville Red Devils with a comfortable 10-0 victory in six innings over Verbena on Monday.

The bats came alive early and often for Maplesville, which scored runs in each inning to methodically build an insurmountable lead.

According to Maplesville head coach Ab Argent, he uses the early part of the season as an opportunity to evaluate and learn the makeup of the current team.

“I’m looking for guys who are going to compete,” Argent said. “It’s not going to be the finished product on day one, but it’s a chance for me to see what guys can do with chalk and umpires out here.”

Argent is in his first year as head coach of the baseball team.

“They’re learning me and I’m still learning them,” Argent said. “Baseball is a marathon not a sprint, and this is just the starting point for us.”

After a run in the first inning, the game tilted in Maplesville’s favor following a three-run second that put the Red Devils up 4-0 early in the contest.

Thad Hunter started the inning for Maplesville with a lead-off single and later came around to score on an RBI single by Stephen Antinoro.

Verbena looked to answer in the top of the third inning after Trey Shiers was hit by a pitch.

However, Grayson Bice displayed his glove skills at shortstop by snagging a line drive out of the air and throwing over to first base to double-up Shiers and quickly eliminate any threat.

Maplesville forced the issue on the base paths and created scoring opportunities as a result.

The combination of Ken Mims, Terence Dunlap and Kevin Mims caused the most havoc and drew the attention of Verbena pitchers.

“We’ve talked about being aggressive in the run game,” Argent said. “We’re pretty athletic and we’re going to try to use that to our advantage.”

The success at the plate helped out starting pitcher Brent Schoener, who was able to settle into a rhythm in the first game of the year and combined with Grayson Bice in relief to earn the shutout.

“My coach calls the pitches and I just try to go out there and hit the spots,” Schoener said. “I know I have the seven behind me and a great catcher to help me out. I was pretty hyped out there.”

Maplesville made a deep playoff last season and before being knocked out in the third round of the state playoffs.

The expectations remain high with nine seniors on the team.

“Everybody’s expectations are to go to state, and that’s ours as well,” Schoener said. “We’ve got a great team and a good shot at it.”