Local teams prepare for baseball season

Published 8:25 pm Friday, February 8, 2013

Area teams are warming up those arms and dusting off those cleats in anticipation of baseball season.

The Escambia County High School Blue Devils open their season on Monday, Feb. 18 when they travel to Monroe County for a doubleheader at 4:30 and 6 p.m.

Coach Gavin King said the team is solid defensively, but has had the team facing a lot of live pitching during scrimmages to work on run production.

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“Hitting has been the focal point and what we need to work on the most,” said the first-year coach.

Pitcher and outfielder Tyler Sanspree, pitcher and outfielder Dandrez McCarthy, pitcher and catcher Matthew Quimby, third baseman Jason Davis and pitcher, shortstop and back-up catcher Malcolm Black are players to watch for the Blue Devils this year.

“Those are five guys that I need to lead by example with their play,” King said. “These guys have been playing for a while.”

Escambia Academy hopes to build on its 18-4 regular season record from last year and its playoff berth when it takes to the home field against Pensacola Christian on Friday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Coach Mickey Cannon said the team has a mixture of youth and experience with four seniors, two juniors and sophomores.

“I think we’re pretty good,” he said. “I think our pitching will be pretty good.”

Cannon will rely on the arms of Reed Bell, Michael Thompson and Flomaton transfer Tristen McAnally this season.

“Our pitching is ahead of our hitting right now, but I expect our hitting to be fine,” he said.

Atmore Christian School will take the field March 1 against West Florida Baptist as the program competes in its third year in existence.

The Rams will be young this year with only one senior, pitcher and shortstop William Swartzendruber, who along with junior first baseman

Travis Smith, Christopher Gehman and Perry Metzler, will lead the team, said coach Anthony Swartzendruber.

“I’m expecting them to be big contributors,” Swartzendruber said.

The Northview Chiefs open the season on Monday, Feb. 18 at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton against Excel.

“My first goal is to win district,” said coach Martin Lister. “Everything else is secondary. That’s a team goal.”

The team will have strong pitching as well as good speed and arms in the outfield, Lister said.

“We’ve got a lot of depth,” he said. “We don’t miss a beat when we have to replace somebody.”

Lister said he plays two shortstops who have the talent to play at the next level, senior Kevin Vaughan and junior Daulton Tulles. Junior catcher Branon Freeman and senior third baseman Winston Riley will also be players to watch.