COVINGTON - For the first time in several years the Eastside Eagles baseball team find themselves in a position where they can actually compete for a playoff spot.
It wasn't that they weren't talented before, it's just that the level of competition was a bit better.
"The region we just left, 8-AAAA, has three top-10 teams. You're pretty much playing for fourth place regardless of the talent pool. Those teams are entirely too dominant," Eastside head coach Michael Poor said.
"I just want us to play good baseball, that's my only concern this year."
Poor will not have a problem with inexperience this season as 13 of the 17-man roster are returning from last year's team.
Another weapon Poor has in his arsenal is a vast amount of pitchers, as half of the team can take the mound.
"Bobby (Coggins) will of course lead the staff, Tim (Roton) will start some for us, too. Then we've got Randy Lowe, Seth Allen and a freshman, Jake Wright," Poor said. "All those guys we had last year were for the most part freshmen and sophomores. They all now have a year of varsity experience, they've all been playing together. We have enough arms to get us through the season."
Another aspect of the game that Poor has confidence in is his defense.
As long as his pitchers do not allow runners on base by walks, Poor feels his defense can keep opposing players from reach home plate.
Playing second base, shortstop and third base are Keaton Anglin, Jake Casteel, Travis Marks and Randy Loew.
"Those four guys will be in three positions. I've told them that it's going to boil down to the three that are hitting are the going to play," Poor said.
When Coggins is not on the mound, he will be sharing playing time at first base with Lowe and Jake Greshman.
Parked behind the plate are sophomores Will Gayler and Joey Bruce with Sam Johnson, Hunter Parker, Git Aiken, Allen and Roton splitting time in the outfield.
In the past, when the pitching and defense have been working well it seems that the offense has struggled. However, Poor does not see that as being the case this season.
"Right now everyone is hitting the ball very well," he said. "Whether they're crushing the ball in the gap for a double or hitting the ground ball to second base to move the runner, I think the hitters have gotten much smarter and we've been working on a lot of mechanics."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Eastside baseball
Coach: Michael Poor (third year)
Last year's record: 7-19, 7-17 in 8-AAAA
First game: 5:30 p.m. March 2 at Salem