Gators counting on pitching, defense
Offense. To be determined.
“The question is will we be able to score enough runs,” Goose Creek baseball coach Scott Durham said. “That’s ultimately what it’s going to boil down to for us. This season is probably going to be a lot like last year when we were in a lot of close games.”
The Gators bring back two of their best pitchers and a solid cast of fielders from a squad that went 12-15 overall and 3-5 in region play last spring. They advanced to the district championship game before falling to eventual state champion Ashley Ridge.
Of their losses, seven were by three runs or less.
Durham feels his team has three or four decent hitters but is unsure about the rest of the lineup. Infielder/pitcher Cody Smith, who will hit in the three hole, is the leading hitter coming back after batting .379 in 2012.
Leadoff hitter Chris Singleton, an outfielder, hit .291 and infielder/pitcher Tyler Rio was at .281. The only other starter returning is second baseman Zach Owens but he batted just .214. Everybody else with experience hit below .200 last spring.
“I don’t see us playing in a lot of high-scoring games,” Durham said.
Smith and Rio give the Gators a stout combination on the mound. Rio was 4-4 with two saves and a 3.07 earned-run average last season while Smith was 3-4 with a 2.52 ERA. Bryce Jonason comes back with some experience too. He was 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA. Michael Hensley has looked good in preseason scrimmages from the mound.
The catcher will be Christian Sillanpaa.
Senior Cody Ward, a transfer from Camden County, Ga., is set to man first base and will log some innings on the bump too.
Rio and Smith will hold down shortstop and Sean Freeland is penciled in at third base.
Along with Singleton, Dalton Lash is a starter in the outfield while Michael Hensley and Kyle Moore are the third and fourth outfielders.
The Gators begin the season on March 4 at home against Hanahan and also host on March 6 against Fort Dorchester. They play at Colleton County on March 8 and Summerville on March 11.
They begin region play March 22 at Cane Bay.
“We’re not counting on a lot of guys that haven’t played before,” Durham said. “I don’t think we’ll be overwhelmed by anything but our schedule is a challenge. There are no gimmes on there for sure.”