By Bryan Davis
Oak Hill Academy head baseball coach Marion Bratton knows that he has a good group of kids on his roster. He also knows that the 2011 team is very young still.
Armed with one senior and one junior, the Raiders are in the middle of a common cycle in high school sports. This year’s group is the foundation, and a solid one at that, for what Bratton believes are great things to come in the next couple of years.
“I’ve got a good ball club,” Bratton said on Wednesday, as his team was once again restricted to the indoors facility because of rain. “I’m proud of the way they hang out together and for their friendship. They are a good group of kids to coach.”
The core of this group is undoubtedly the sophomore class, which sports a half dozen players. Jeb Stevens, Chance Livingston, Tres Turner, Cole Fowler, Adam Tumey and Conner Baird are all regular starters for Oak Hill.
Kody Riley serves as the only senior, while Clay Henley is the lone started junior.
While the sophomore class may still be young, this is certainly not their first go-round on the diamond. The Raiders were faced with similar problems last season. With a limited veteran presence in 2010, these kids got experience, as freshmen, that many high school athletes don’t get until they are juniors.
“They are definitely getting experience,” Bratton said. “It gives us an opportunity to build some depth for the future.”
The Oak Hill roster has two freshmen players (Curt Huffman and Joseph Caskey), but Bratton says that the B-team is very strong this year.
“I like my little B-team,” Bratton said. “They come out swinging. They have a lot of talent.”
Some of those junior high players got a chance to play in the varsity’s 19-9 win over Macon Central last Thursday evening. Bratton said that the B-team should produce some quality pitching as well.
“We’ll be pretty solid,” Bratton said. “There should be some above average pitchers out of that group, so there’s a real possibility of that happening.”
A big part of building a solid program has to do with being able to play and practice consistently. Due to heavy rain, this is something that Bratton’s team has not been able to do. Unable to play on Monday, the Raiders found themselves rained out on Tuesday and pushed inside for Wednesday’s practice.
They’ll likely return to the diamond for practice next week, but they won’t be able to face live action until the final two days of Spring Break when they play Immanuel, Lamar and Heritage.
“It’s about keeping that momentum going,” Bratton said. “It’s all about repetition and outdoor practices.”
The Raiders will have three quick games at the end of next week. Bratton and his young bunch are hoping that will be enough to properly prepare them for district play, which will start at Manchester the following Tuesday.