CONYERS - In just his second season at the helm of the Salem baseball team, coach Chris Davis is hoping experience brings big dividends this spring.
The Seminoles return a veteran lineup from last year's squad, which posted an 18-10 record and earned a trip to the Class AAAA state playoffs.
"Our strength will be our experience," Davis said. "Most of these guys got their feet wet last season and are ready to improve on what they did last season. I like our attitude. These guys expect to succeed and hopefully we can get prepared to do what it takes to be successful."
The key returning players for Salem are senior Jake Dyer, senior Drew Dentler, senior Taylor Lamb, senior Dustin Dunlop, sophomore T.J. Cash, junior Corey Womack, junior Brandon Crumbley and senior Jonathan Brewer.
Dyer, Dentler and Dunlop were all first-team selections on the Citizen's 2007 All-Area Baseball Team.
Dyer hit .368 last season for the Seminoles with four home runs and 27 RBIs. He was also 5-2 on the mound with a 1.78 ERA.
Dunlop hit .380 and scored 26 runs, while Dentler compiled a .377 batting average and provided steady defense in center field.
The key losses off last year's squads were Tony Chisman, Matt Lewis, Jordan Barrett, Alex Girardot and Zach Mann. Chisman and Mann were both first-team All-Area selections.
"We're bringing back an experienced team in the field and at the plate," Davis said. "We have to replace Zach Mann (who moved) in the lineup and Tony, Jordan and Alex on the mound. We have to get quality innings of the new guys that will be pitching this season."
Davis is also expecting good things from newcomers Stephen Brown, Cameron Gibson, Josh Bailey and Nick Woodward.
Right now, Davis' main concern is pitching depth as the Seminoles launch their season today at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in McDonough at 6 p.m.
"We have to replace a lot of innings on the mound," Davis said. "Brandon Crumbley and Stephen Brown will be asked to fill that void along with Drew Dentler, and some of the inexperienced guys are going to have to come through for us.
"The region is tough. We have 24 one-game seasons and that will be our approach each game."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@ rockdalecitizen.com.