Silver Knights Returning Several Veterans
Losing three seniors due to graduation in 2017 is bound to hurt, but Coach Robby Jones and his Silver Knights believe they have what it takes to fill those spots, and move on and make a run to the state tournament. Last season they finished with a school record 20 wins, and was runner up in the Regional finals. However, several key players are returning and expectations are running high.
“Our goals remain the same,” Knights Coach Robby Jones said. “We want see the kids work hard in practice, get better with each outing, win our sectional, play in the regional and hopefully get down to state.”
Gone from last years team are Nate Lantz, Trent Smith and James Seago. All three players will be missed. Lantz was steady at third base and was also a mainstay on the mound ending his senior year with a 7-3 record. His performance at the plate was something Jones counted heavily on as Lantz pounded out 36 hits, while batting 0.448 with 17 RBI’s, including six doubles and three triples. Lantz earned second team All-State honors and was named to the first team of the OVAC and All-Valley teams.
Smith proved to be a quality outfielder, manning center field and will be hard to replace. Jones called him one of the team leaders, but stated both athletes will be hard to replace.
The good news however is the Knights have a wealth of talent returning. Three of the four seniors are fresh off a successful basketball season where they advanced to the state tournament are Dylan Roberts, Kyle Mason, and Luke Daugherty. Colby Buchanan is the fourth senior on the team, and is an all around good athlete who injured his knee during football season and had surgery, and missed the basketball season. But, Buchanan could be back behind the plate sometime soon. He is an outstanding catcher who knows how to work the pitchers and has great leadership qualities. Junior Jake Rice will fill in until Buchanan returns and Jones believes he is up to the task.
“Jake is in his third year and he has really worked hard to prepare himself,” said Jones.
Accepting a leadership role this season will be second baseman Mason.
He knocked in 13 runs last season while hitting at 0.400 and stealing 26 bases, to earn an honorable mention All-Valley spot. According to Jones, Mason will have to play an important part if the Knights are to have success.
“He’s a four year starter for us who can do it all. He’s a lead off hitter, wh is fundamentally sound and can bunt and steal bases. Mason has the best hands on the team and is a hard nosed player,” Jones stated.
Daugherty will be the Knights top returner to the mound after having a stellar season last year, when he recorded 60 K’s and went 9-1 with a 2.93 ERA. At the plate he hit at 0.291 with 15 RBI’s and added 15 stolen bases.
Roberts, had a good junior year at the plate batting 0.443 with 18 RBI’s, including six doubles.
He also stole 14 bases. He had a 4-1 record on the mound with 23 K’s and a 2.77 ERA.
He will be counted on as a starter and relief on the mound while also handling shortstop and seeing time in the outfield.
“Both these players are leaders on the field, Luke throws strikes and led our team in strikeouts, Dylan is a team leader who I can count on to make plays,” Jones said.
Daugherty earned second team All-State and second team All-Valley his junior year, while Roberts earned second team All-Valley, and will be counted on to bring some of that kind of play and type of energy to the field once again.
The Silver Knights have a good group of juniors coming back with valuable experience.
Besides Rice who will fill in for Buchcanan behind the plate, Coach Jones will count heavily on Tyler West who will give the team some key leadership from the junior class.
His previous stats were impressive and he’s looking to build on those. Last season he knocked in 28 runs while hitting at 0.408 and ponding out 12 doubles and three triples.
“Tyler is an emotional athlete and a leader,” said Coach Jones.
“He plays with great enthusiasm and is a great outfielder who can cover a lot of area. We will count on him to work the mound for us as well this year.”
Junior Noah Smith, will also be counted on to take the mound and will be another big asest in the outfield.
He has good range, good speed, and can cover a lot of territory. Rounding out the junior five man class will be Dylan Seckman who will man first base, and Cody Kages as another outfield prospect.
The roster will include three sophomores, headed up by Gage Huffman, who will play some shortstop/third base, while also pitching. Huffman is a good overall athlete and should provide a good stick as well. Vying for spots in the outfield will be Braden Rine and Creed Ammons.
Two freshman on the 2018 roster are Justin Bowman and Jackson Kibby, both may be able to pitch and play some infield, which should make for more depth.
The coaching staff consists of Avery West as statistician and Assistant Coach Vance Ash. Coach Jones says he believes he has the best assistant coach in the valley in Ash and is happy to have him as they work to make the state tournament .
The Silver Knights will open the season at home on March 23 at 5 p.m. against Parkersburg Catholic, and will travel to Valley on Saturday, March 24, for a double-header starting at noon.