Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot has two junior teams for legion ball

Leader sportswriter

Cabot Centennial Bank American Legion teams are getting geared up for the start of summer baseball with two junior teams this season. There are plenty of familiar faces on the senior team from the high school Panthers team, with a sizeable crop of younger players creating an enhanced feeder system.

Craig Nyborg takes over as head coach of the senior team after several seasons on the staff as an assistant while former player Chris Gross returns to head up the junior team. Greg Frantal will coach the second junior group, which was just added on Monday. Both teams are set to open the season in the North Little Rock Memorial Day tournament to be held at Burns Park this weekend.

The seniors will open their season on the road Friday at Batesville and will open up at home Monday against Bryant.

“It’s going to be a fun year,” Nyborg said. “They are all a little bit down about how things went during the high-school season, but they are looking forward to a fun, exciting year, and I think we can win a lot of games. They gel well together; they’re all friends and they enjoy playing with each other. I really feel like we can do well this year.”

Brandon Surdam returns from his freshman year of college to headup a deep pitching staff for the Centennial Bank team. Surdam will play outfield when not on the mound, but his 91 miles-per-hour fastball is what has Nyborg excited to have the former Panther standout back on the roster.

Haydon Vinson and Ryan Logan will also see plenty of time on the mound this season, as will Bryson Morris.

A name that is new to the senior team but not in the city of Cabot is graduated Panther T.C. Carter, who will play summer baseball for the first time since his days on the junior team. Carter will play catcher and fill in at first base when needed.

“He’s been hurt every summer from football, so this is the first time he’s been able to come out,” Nyborg said. “That will be nice to have him.”

The team has good depth across the board with Kyle Kaufman, Dustin Morris, Casey Vaughn, Scott Burnett, Cole Thomas, 15-year-old standout Tristan Bulice, Grant Bell, Tyler Wilkie and Justin Goff. The Centennial Bank team hopes to improve on a strong 2011 season in which it made the state tournament before falling out in the opening round with back-to-back losses.

The junior teams are formally known as Cabot 1 and Cabot 2, although the teams are listed in the NLR tourney bracket as Cabot Gross and Cabot Frantal.

The Gross team will open tournament play in Pool B along with Benton, Jacksonville and Beebe, with their first game against Benton on Friday evening.

The Frantal team will be in Pool C along with Sheridan, Lake Hamilton and the Texarkana Tigers. Their first game will be against the Tigers on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Field 2, and at the conclusion of that game, the down time will be minimal as they have to make their way over to Field 1 for a 5:30 p.m. game against Lake Hamilton.

Cabot 1 will also play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Beebe.

Both teams will play the late games on Sunday, with Cabot 1 Gross taking on Jacksonville at 8 p.m. on Field 1 while the Frantal team takes on Sheridan on Field 2.

If Cabot 1 wins Pool B, it will advance them to championship day on Monday with a noon game against the winner of Pool A. If Cabot 2 wins its pool, they will play the winner of Pool D at 2:30 p.m., with the championship game at 5:30 p.m.