Spring is around the corner and that means baseball season is set to start. Tiger baseball head coach Rhett Hellgren is entering his third season at the helm of the BI squad and said he expects roughly 10-12 players who either started or played on the varsity squad last year to return.
"The kids now understand my philosophy and know what to expect from me and what I expect from them," he said. "Defensively we should be strong, hitting we should be stronger than last season."
But on the mound Hellgren said, "That is my number one question mark for the season."
The coach lost two of his go-to pitchers as Dustin Belletti and Kentrell Hargrove graduated. Hellgren said his main focus is finding the right rotation to start and finish games on the mound.
But, he said, the bench looks promising.
"The biggest thing about this year is we actually have competition for positions," he said. "It’s the first year since I’ve been here that we have competition. If a player is not doing well, they can be taken out and someone else can come in with the same amount of skill and ability, where in years past it was do what you could with the same nine guys."
Hellgren said they have kids on the bench now who will motivate others.
"It’s a nice feeling," he said. "If somebody is struggling we can try somebody else."
This season, Hellgren has additional help from additions to his staff. Adam Bryie and Frank Troup will lend their hands. Erik Lukkarinen will round out as assistant hitting coach and Jeff Eastlake will strengthen the defense.
Looking toward the season Hellgren doesn’t expect any surprises.
"As usual Camden, Jenkins and Groves will be battling for the top spot in the region," he said. "We are starting out with some tough non-region games and we will find out quickly what we have."
2009 Tiger baseball season
Feb 23, 5 p.m. Brantley County, Home
Feb 28, 12:15 p.m. @ Charlton County
March 2, 5 p.m. @ Brantley County
March 4, 5 p.m., Glynn Academy, Home
March 7, 1:30 p.m., Richmond Hill, Home
March 10, 5 p.m., Camden County, * Home
March 13, 4 p.m., @ Windsor Forest*
March 14, 1 p.m., Long County, Home
March 18, 5:45 p.m., @ Richmond Hill
March 20, 6 p.m., Wayne County, Home
March 23, 5 p.m., @ Glynn Academy
March 24, 5 p.m., Beach,* Home
March 25, 5:45 p.m., @ Brunswick
March 27, 4:30 p.m., @ Johnson, Savannah*
March 28, 12:15 p.m., Charlton County, Home
March 31, 4 p.m., @ Groves*
April 3, 4:30 p.m., @Jenkins*
April 4, 1 p.m., @ Long County
April 7, 4:30 p.m. @ Camden County*
April 10, 5 p.m., Windsor Forest, * Home
April 14, 4 p.m., Beach* @ Jenkins High
April 15, 6 p.m., @ Wayne County
April 21, 5 p.m. Groves, * Home
April 22, 5 p.m. Brunswick, Home
April 24, 5 p.m., Johnson, Savannah, * Home
Apr 28 Tue 4:30 p.m., Jenkins*, away