Six starters will return for the Dragons in 2012
Bunceton baseball coach Yancy Cody will lead a cast of players heading into the 2012 season.
While skipping the spring season due to low numbers, the Dragons are back again this fall with 10 players suited out for the 2012 season, six of which are returning starters.
"I think we will be pretty decent," Cody said. "We have five great seniors coming back and we have a great group of athletes. Even though we didn't play in the spring, I still think our fundamentals are strong."
The Dragons will have to be on their game every night while facing teams like Pilot Grove, Prairie Home, Otterville, Jamestown and Higbee. Cody said Pilot Grove is always going to be the favorite based on the number of players they have come out every season and their tradition. "They have a really good team and a good group of kids," Cody said. "However, I think we will have a pretty decent team. We have some mature young men on the team. We will have to be solid defensively and back up our pitchers. We also need to be smart on the basepaths. But the biggest thing is that we not let one inning snowball. We need to be able to handle it mentally when something does go wrong."
Looking at the strengths of the team this season, Cody said the seniors are stepping it up so far in practice and will continue to do so. He said the five seniors are also taking on the leadership role.
"I think we are going to have some decent speed as well," Cody said. "As far as our weaknesses, it has to be depth first and foremost. We need to stay healthy and do things right. However, I would like to see us compete for a conference title and just get better every day. I would also like for us to try and have games where we have no errors."
With the season beginning on Tuesday, August 28 against arch-rival Prairie Home, Cody said senior Jacob Clevenger will probably get the starting nod on the mound. A returning starter for the Dragons, Cody said Clevenger has good speed and throws strikes but most importantly he has the experience on the mound.
Senior Kyle Held will also get a look on the mound for Bunceton this fall. Cody said Held doesn't have the experience but will have to come in and throw strikes. "We need Kyle to slow down and not throw too hard," Cody said. "We have nine players so anybody who can throw can pitch."
Senior Ashton Campbell will also return for the Dragons at the catcher's position. While Clevenger and Campbell could form a great 1-2 punch for Bunceton, Cody said where people play depends on who is on the mound. "With Ashton I think he has some raw talent so we will mold him into becoming a complete catcher," Cody said.
As for the infield and outfield, Cody said it's up in the air. Senior Will Twenter, who started at third base last year, played center field as a sophomore and could be back at third, second or in the outfield. Clevenger, meanwhile, will split time on the mound but could play anywhere on the field. As for Held, he will see time both on the mound and at shortstop. Junior Kyler Tucker will also return and could play both in the infield and outfield.
"I have a group of kids who would be comfortable on any part of the field," Cody said. "They just want to play ball."
Other players who will see some playing time this season for the Dragons are sophomore Aaron Clevenger, who played both the infield and outfield last year, sophomore Chase Anderson, who returns after playing second and outfield in 2011.
The three freshmen that will have to contribute during the season are Will Armstrong at first, third or outfield, Damion Amidon at second or outfield and Dylon Custer at first or outfield.
Cody said senior Darrell Davis will be the 10th player on the team and returns as an outfielder.