COVINGTON - Even though most of Alcovy's baseball team is made up of sophomores, coach Joe Mobley will no longer accept their youth as an excuse for losing.
"I told them I don't care if you are a sophomore, you're a veteran now and we're not going to make excuses," Mobley said. "I think that overall we're a solid baseball team. We won't give runs away as much as we did last year because of inexperience and youth."
After going 4-22 in the team's first season, Mobley likes the way his team has come around during the off-season. One thing that has made a difference is the time spent in the weight room.
"I think our greatest improvement we've made is our strength," Mobley said. "They've grown and many have been on a workout program in the weight room."
The Alcovy outfield will probably be the strength of the team with a solid infield right behind.
"The infield is going to be solid defensively. I feel real good (about that)," Mobley said. "Outfielders, I feel that's one of the strengths of our team."
Alcovy's infield will consist of Jimmy Ingram (third base), Ellis Fanning (shortstop) and Jon Pollard as utility infielder.
Bryan Daniel, who was Alcovy's catcher last year, will get relief behind the plate from Taylor Jackson. Daniel and Jackson will swap duties between catching and playing second base.
Vying for playing time at first base are Cody Bala, Rachard Nash and Beau Thomas.
The only steady outfielder Mobley has is center fielder Cole Loggins. Michael Aventurato, Ross Roberts and Thomas will share the other two spots.
But the key to Alcovy's success will fall on the shoulders of its pitching staff.
"Pitching is probably going to be our most key position," Mobley said. "We were very young at pitching last year and we're young again this year, but we have experience; that's going to be a huge difference."
Alcovy will rotate four pitchers while counting on two relievers. Making up the group of starters are Thomas, Aventurato, Bala and Pollard, with Fanning and Jackson being used in relief.
Thomas, a left-handed sophomore, was one of the most effective pitchers the Tigers had last season. While not an overpowering thrower, he keeps the ball in and around the plate consistently.
"He's always around the plate and that's very positive. If you're around the plate and not walking people, you have a chance," Mobley said.
Another left-handed sophomore showing great improvement is Aventurato. Bala, a junior transfer from Union Grove, could be an asset if he can be consistent in the strike zone.
From start to finish last season, Pollard, a right-handed sophomore, was Mobley's most consistent hurler. If he can give the Tigers those same results, Mobley likes his team's chances.
"Every time he went out there he was pretty strong. I don't think he had one bad outing. I'm looking for good things from him," Mobley said. "I'm looking for a little relief help from Taylor Jackson and Ellis. Taylor is a sophomore and Ellis is a senior. Pitching is going to be the key to our season this year."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.