COVINGTON - A new coach, a new region and new opponents should make for an interesting season for Alcovy's baseball team.
"You've got Dutchtown, Ola and Griffin which are really good teams. This region has some teams that are just as good as some of those teams from 8-AAAA, I just don't know if the whole region from top to bottom is going to be as good, " first-year head coach Casey Bates said. "Our goal is to make it to the top four, make it to the state tournament and see what happens from there. You never know what will happen once you get there."
While most teams have their pitching dominate early in the season, the Tigers hitting has been surpassing Bates' expectations.
"Usually the pitching is dominant early but this time now it's our hitting. Our pitchers have been doing what they're suppose to do, but the hitters have been hitting the ball real well," Bates said. "Everyone of them are hitting. There's not a single kid on the varsity that has not been hitting our pitchers."
Actually, the hitting has been so good that Bates is having trouble setting up his defense. He does not want to have a player take the field while risking taking the bat out of a player with a hot bat.
"If you can keep teams from scoring you're going to win a lot of ball games because defense and pitching is the main thing. But with high school kids, when you can find kids that can put the ball in play and they play hard, you're going to find a place to put them. They're usually about the same when it comes to defense, but hitting is where they separate themselves out," Bates said.
The Tigers have nine players actively competing for a spot in the infield.
Going for first base are Alred Nesbit, Ross Roberts and T.J. Roberts, who was on the team two years ago.
Taylor Jackson, Bowen Braswell and John Pollard are battling for short stop with Shaun Carter and Bryan Daniels at third.
The only player secured in their position, for now, is Jimmy Ingram at second.
"In the outfield, we've got a platoon there as well," Bates said. "What we're going to do is whoever is hitting the ball, we'll find a spot for them."
Alcovy's pitching staff is also loaded with experienced talent from last year's team.
Taking the mound for the Tigers are Mike Aventurato, Beau Thomas, Pollard and Jackson.
Also seeing time on the hill are Ross Roberts, Drew Parker, Garrison Reddy and Daniels.
All of them are returning from last year. I've got a steady group of juniors, a couple freshmen and a couple sophomores and a couple seniors. They're working hard too," Bates said.
With an experienced group of players, Bates is hoping to turnaround last years trend of not scoring while giving up too many runs.
The Tigers average four runs per game while allowing eight.
"In this region I think we're going to score our fair share of runs. We've just got to keep the other teams from scoring. That was our problem last year," he said.
"We scored runs, but our pitchers gave up some runs; our defense gave up some runs, we're going to try to limit that this year. We're going to work on making the routine play. If we make the routine play and pitchers throw strikes, we're going to be successful."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
· Coach: Casey Bates
· School: Alcovy Tigers
· Years as head coach at school: First
· Last year's record: 7-19 overall, 7-17 Region 8-AAAA
· First home game: 5:30 p.m. March 2 against Salem