Back for his second year at the helm of Silver Knight baseball, Tyler Consolidated head coach Rob Jones is looking forward to the 2014 season. With 16 solid players filling out the roster, Jones says he has full confidence that his team will surpass last years seven win season.
"We had several guys working hard in the off season to be better baseball players," he said. "They've gone to camps, played summer ball and have been hitting the weights and staying in shape. We're fundamentally more sound than we were, and the best thing is the guys are excited to be here and ready to get started."
With starters Koty Martin and Levi Henderson lost to graduation last year, Tyler Consolidated counts themselves lucky to have several newcomers to the team to step into this years team dynamics.
Sixteen players will represent the Silver Knights in uniform this season, three seniors, three juniors, seven sophomores and three freshmen; eight of whom are returning starters. "It's good to have so much experience back, but even better is the addition of several new faces wanting to play ball," Jones said.
Seniors expecting to lead the team this season all return with experience to the diamond: Nathan Heintzman returns to the starting catcher's position; Evan Davis returns as a versatile infielder, probably in the short stop slot; and Isaac Michael at third.
Junior Jacob Stackpole return with experience to the team and will each are likely starters at second. Juniors Logan Moffitt and Johannes Nicklaus will dress varsity and mix into the roster with Moffitt both able to handle utility positions for the team.
The sophomore class offers the largest contingency of players with seven: Kole Starkey, Austin Thompson, Tait Absher, Colby Lash, Jordan Baker, Dillon Glover and Ty Pratt. Several of these players saw extensive field time last year as well, and return to the club with baseball knowledge. Fans of the game can look for Thompson at first; Baker at short; Lash, Glover, Absher, and Pratt in the outfield and Starkey in an all around utility position.
Freshmen competing for starting positions on this years are Trent Smith, Nate Lantz and James Seago.
Putting a lot of dependence on the strength of a young but hearty pitching staff, coach Jones feels that he has enough strong arms to depend on. "We've got some guys back that saw a lot of innings on the mound last year, a couple who were coming along pretty well and we plan on trying out a few new guys at the position this year," he said.
Baker and Davis will be the obvious go-to guys on the hill in big games for the Silver with Moffitt, Lash, Smith, Michael and Lantz all seeing their fair share of innings.
As for pre-season starting positions, Jones said his line-up was not quite set in stone, but he had a pretty good idea where just about everybody would be.
Defensively, fans can look for Thompson or Smith at first; Stackpole/Lantz holding second; Moffitt/Stackpole or Glover at third; Davis/Baker at short; and tried but true Heintzman in the catcher's slot backed up by Seago.
Contributing to the team from outfield positions will be Lash, Smith, Starkey, Absher, Nicklaus and Pratt.
Though Magnolia is no longer in the regular season line-up for the Knights, Tyler Consolidated will have their work cut out for them competing in both the OVAC and LKC conferences.
"Both the OVAC and LKC conferences are very competitive," Jones said. "Neither one are easy conferences by any means. We hope to be as competitive as every other team out there.
Along with the addition of new assistant coach, Vance Ash, this season the Knights are also in the process of making a few changes to the playing area of the field at Knight Stadium. The addition of a section of fence behind home plate will create a shorter backstop area which coach Jones says will put all teams playing on the field, at an even keel.
The Silver Knights will host Doddridge on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. and Calhoun on Thursday in a double header, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
|Silver Knight baseball 2014|
|March 26||vs. Doddridge||4:30 p.m.|
|March 28||vs. Calhoun||4:30 p.m. (DH)|
|April 1||vs. Ritchie||4:30 p.m.|
|April 2||@ Park. Catholic||5 p.m.|
|April 3||@ St. Marys||5 p.m.|
|April 7||@ Williamstown||4:30 p.m.|
|April 8||vs. Frontier||4:30 p.m.|
|April 10||vs. S.Harrison||4:30 p.m.|
|April 11||vs. St. Johns||5 p.m.|
|April 14||vs. Wmstown||4:30 p.m.|
|April 16||@ St. Johns||5 p.m.|
|April 18||@ Ritchie||4:30 p.m.|
|April 19||vs. Hundred||11 a.m. (DH)|
|April 22||vs. Wirt||4:30 p.m.|
|April 24||vs. P.Catholic||5 p.m.|
|April 26||@ Valley||11 a.m. (DH)|
|April 28||@ Paden City||5 p.m.|
|April 30||@ Doddridge||4:30 p.m.|
|May 2||@ Frontier||4:30 p.m.|
|May 8||@ LKC place||TBA|
|* Home games in bold|