Bradwell Institute will have a junior-heavy baseball team this season, according to coach Jeff Polk.
“Seven of my nine starters graduated, so we have two returners,” Polk said, noting that Hunter Hawkins and Evan Crystal are coming back this year.
Of the seven players lost, three were part of the Tigers’ pitching rotation. Polk said Crystal will probably lead the pitching staff.
“Evan is only a junior, and I’m expecting him to have a big year,” Polk said, adding that they do have other players moving up from JV who will win slots in the rotation for the season.
Hawkins is a sophomore and will likely play shortstop, the coach said. Hawkins received extensive playing time on the varsity squad last year.
One post the Tigers had a rough time filling last season was catcher. Last year was the first season without Sage Sammons’ skills behind the plate. Polk had to use several players behind the plate throughout the season.
This year, Polk said he has a true catcher coming in to fill the spot.
“Wes Brooks is a senior who just transferred in from Texas,” the coach said, adding that Brooks has played the position for some time.
The coach said the team’s strength for the season will be hitting. As the Tigers prepare for the season, he said, the focus is on strengthening defense.
“We don’t have an 85- to 90-mph pitcher who is going to blow the ball by people. So teams will put the ball in play, and we have to work on fielding them,” he said.
Last year, the Tigers went 7-15 overall and 1-13 in Region 3-AAAAA.
Polk said that once again, South Effingham will be strong.
“From what I understand, they only graduated one senior, and they went to the Final Four last year. So I am expecting them to be strong,” he said.
Polk added that Richmond Hill is known for having a strong pitching crew, and teams like Effingham and Brunswick always play tough.
“We have a tough region,” Polk said.
Next Friday, the Tigers will scrimmage Bryan County on Tiger Field at 6 p.m. The Tigers will then prepare for the rivalry game at Liberty County at 6 p.m. Feb. 26.
The following day, they host Charlton County at 2 p.m.