Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s legion pitching is deep

Leader sportswriter

While other American Legion programs are finding it necessary to combine forces, Cabot Post 91 continues to show signs of growth. Cabot will once again field a senior team and two junior clubs for the summer 2013 season, and will begin junior zone play on Thursday with Cabot Red versus Cabot White, while the senior team will travel to Texarkana the following day to begin its season.

Cabot high-school assistant coach Cody Whitworth moves over to take the helm for the senior group while Chris Gross returns to coach the junior Red team, and David Smith taking over the White team.

Good overall numbers also translates to strong bullpens for the three teams, particularly with the senior Centennial Bank squad team. Whitworth said nearly all of his roster of 16 could go if needed, with score of eight hurlers that could take the mound at any time this summer.

“We’re going to have a lot of arms,” Whitworth said. “We’re loaded with returners who have been in the Legion program. We will have depth on the mound – just about everybody we’ve got can pitch if we need them to. There’s up to 12 that could see time.”

The inclusive list begins with ace and UCA commit Ryan Logan, a southpaw who has started for three years on the Panther high-school team.

Logan’s performance through the spring took its toll on his left arm, and the standout will most likely sit out the first week or two to give it extra time to recover, but Whitworth expects him to have the most starts before it is all said and done.

“He’s pretty legit,” Whit-worth said. “His arm is a little tender, so he won’t start early. We also have Bryson Morris, another lefty who graduated last year. He has been at Arkansas Tech.”

Morris brings back the most experience for Cabot, while Riley Knudsen and Grayson Cole are expected to see significant time on the mound this summer.

Behind those pitchers are right hander Conner Vocque, outfielder Casey Vaughan and Hayden Vinson, while Cole Thomas will be used in a reliever capacity.

Projected defensive starters are catcher Tristan Bulice, Morris at first, Knudsen at second, Thomas at shortstop and Coleman McAtee at third base. Knudsen hit .465 for the Panthers in the spring, while McAtee batted just over .300. Vaughn, who is committed to Crowder Jr. College in Missouri, will start most nights in left field after a strong spring in which he batted .334, his third summer to start for the Post 91 senior team.

Vocque has Division I college interest, and will start in centerfield while Cole will start in right when not pitching, leaving Vinson as the infield utility player to fill in for whoever is pitching on a given night.

Kyle Kaufman will play a similar role for the outfield.

“Our motto in high school is ‘every single rep, every single day,’ and we’re just going to carry that over into the summer,” Whitworth said. “It won’t be much of an adjustment for them to adapt to me as a head coach versus an assistant, they all know I expect them to work hard. I’m excited about it. They’re all good kids and work really hard.”

Also on the senior roster are Landon Alberson, Rhett Alberson, Trace Burk, Trent Frizzell and Shawn Williams.

Gross’s team includes right-handed pitcher Adam Hicks along with lefties Gavin Tillery and Lee Sullivan.

“We should be pretty solid,” Gross said. “We’re a little older and better defensively. As far as swinging the bat, we really don’t have anybody who stands out. Our pitching will be pretty good, this group is probably the future of Cabot on the high-school side, they will most likely be the studs next year and the year after.

“I’ll know a little more about what I have after we play in the Lakeside tournament.”

Familiar names on this year’s Red club include Lino Garcia, Ethan Holland, Braden Jarnigan, Austin Jones, Josh Kelpine, Jack Teague and Jacob Wamack.