CONYERS - Perhaps no baseball coach believes in the team concept more than Eddie Bagwell. The Conyers Post 77 head man said as much when talking about his team, which opened its season Tuesday at Douglasville.
"I have 18 guys that I count on; I've got 18 guys that will pull their weight and do their jobs," Bagwell said. "One of the challenges we have as legion coaches, in my opinion, is merging these players together."
Bagwell won't have to work too hard merging the six Heritage players on the roster. Rising senior Tyler Austin, the team's catcher, is one of the top professional prospects in the nation, while the top two starting pitchers on the Patriots' state playoff team - Anthony Bazzani and Kelvan Diaz - will help anchor the pitching rotation. Infielders Travis Tarleton, Nick Woodward and Brandon Thomas are also on the roster.
"I do have several of the Heritage kids; they play a role," Bagwell said. "Tyler is a bonafide power threat; good as any player in the state of Georgia in my opinion. He works really hard ... we're getting to reap the benefits of it."
Conyers should benefit from a wealth of talent from other surrounding schools. Three players that played on Salem's 2009 team - pitcher Brandon Crumbley, who is headed to Augusta State in the fall, and catcher Logan Singleton, along with rising junior Cameron Gibson, a potential superstar, will play important roles for the Conyers this summer.
"Cameron Gibson, my centerfielder, I got to see him all spring; I like him a lot," Bagwell said. "(He's) got a great future academically and baseball-wise."
Add in Eastside's Tim Roton and Alcovy duo Beau Thomas and Taylor Jackson and Bagwell has a virtual all-star team of local players to plug into the lineup.
"I think I've got 18 guys right now that are learning to play together and willing to make sacrifices; they've done everything I've asked them to do," said Bagwell. "These young men represent Rockdale and Newton County very well."
Conyers' home opener is scheduled for this evening, a doubleheader against Duluth starting at 6 p.m at Henson-Carr Field.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.