Returning starters bolster Seahawk diamond dreams

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The return of nine starters from last year’s Seahawk varsity baseball squad spells solid expectations for the upcoming 2022 season.

“Following a 2021 season featuring the first playoff berth in school history, our expectation is to repeat that performance and build on that momentum,” said coach Kevin Cox. “Our standard is now post-season play and we expect to advance further than any team in school history once more. 

“We are returning all nine starters from that group that made school history, eight of whom are three-year starters. Things are in place right now for a very special season for Seahawk baseball,” he said.

The 2022 varsity team will feature five seniors that have been playing baseball together for their entire career, from youth ball to varsity baseball for the Seahawks. “This familiarity with each other, natural communication that comes with time, and passion for the game is really what makes this group special,” said Cox.

Pitching wise this season the Seahawks will be led by senior righthander Gage Boone and sophomore southpaw Cody Abercombie. Senior righthander Chase Crum, junior righthander Dane Mallon and senior righthander Garrison Cook will rotate on the mound.

“It’s the strongest pitching group we have ever had and maybe a top group in this area of the state,” said Cox.

Defensively, the infield is led by junior shortstop Evan Stanley. Junior Wyatt Abercrombie will anchor the outfield, with a strong arm in left field. Sophomore Chase Millender at catcher will command the defense. “He has really come into his own as a catcher this off-season,” said Cox.

Leaders at the plate will be senior second baseman Will Varnes, Crum and senior center fielder Blakely Curry. “We really feel like we have the speed to get teams in trouble if we get on base,” Cox said.

Senior outfielder Larry Winchester, rehabbing a shoulder injury, will be a strong addition to the lineup once he returns. Utility player sophomore Brayden McCall offers an opportunity to give some starters a break and grow into his own as well. Sophomore Logan Bentley, who can play anywhere in the infield, brings a spark off the bench as well. 

The junior varsity program, under the direction of assistant varsity coach Bill McCullough, will have 14 opportunities to grow this year. “We are thrilled about our JV schedule and have a great group of guys that will grow into strong varsity players to sustain our success,” said Cox.

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the Seahawks had a pre-season outing at Maclay, and on Friday, Feb. 18, they travel to Florida High for more pore-season action.

On Monday, the regular season begins for the JV with an evening game at Leon, and then on Tuesday, it’s the home opener against Bay High School.

On Wednesday, the JV travels to face Lincoln, and on Thursday, Feb. 24, the varsity is at Liberty County.

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