New Liberty County Panther baseball coach David Samuel is ready to have his first-year squad throw out the first pitch and start the season as the Panthers plan to begin with a long road trip to Houston County on Feb. 28.
Samuel took the coaching job after former coach Steve Cottrell moved to the Athens area. In high school, Samuel was a three-year varsity starter, earning all-conference and all-district honors. After high school, he went to Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, where he was the closing pitcher on a squad that still holds the school record for team ERA. During this time he was a pro prospect for several MLB teams.
Samuel said he spent the off season getting to know the players and seeing where their strength and weaknesses are. As practice winds down to the regular season he said his one gray area was behind the plate.
With former Panther standout catcher Aaron Hoffer playing at South Effingham this season the team had big knee guards to fill.
Samuel said he thinks he has found someone who can do the job well in sophomore Matt Desbiens.
As for pitchers Samuel said he has his rotation ready and looks to his seniors, Chris Arnold and Justin Eaton, to start. He said he has several others including sophomore Joe Watkins ready to round out his rotation at the mound.
With 23 games on the varsity schedule, the Panther coach thinks his squad can make a run for a region title. He said he is shooting for the number one spot so they’ll still be in a good spot should they fall shy.
The panthers have 11 home games on the schedule with the first planned for March 5, when they host Johnson High.
2 Matt Desbiens
3 Chris Arnold
4 Cody French
8 Eddie Chipple
9 Cameron Harris
16 Joe Watkins
28 Justin Eaton
Dylan Connelly, Kris Crawford, Zach Hensley, Patrick McDonald, Chris Rafferty, Antonio Smith, Brandon Whitmore, Sam Wilson
Feb. 28, 4 p.m. @ Houston County
March 2, 5 p.m. @ Windsor Forest
March 3, 4 p.m. @ Jenkins
March 5, 5 p.m. Johnson, Savannah, home
March 9, 4 p.m. @ Benedictine
March 13, 6 p.m. @ Washington County*
March 14, 2 p.m. Thomson* home
Mar ch18, 5 p.m. Benedictine home
March 20, 6 p.m. @West Laurens*
March 21, 1 p.m. Burke County* home
March 25, 5 p.m. Glynn Academy home
March 27, 6 p.m. @ Baldwin*
March 28, 1 p.m. Richmond Hill* home
April 4, 1 p.m. Washington County* home
April 8, 5:30 p.m. @ Pierce County vs. Deerfield Beach, Fla.
April 10, 6 p.m. @ Thomson*
April 11, 1 p.m. West Laurens* home
April 14, 5 p.m. Jenkins home
April 17, 6 p.m. @ Burke County*
April 18, 2 p.m. Baldwin* home
April 24, 5 p.m. @ Richmond Hill*
April 27, 5 p.m. Windsor Forest home
April 29, 4:30 p.m. @ Johnson, Savannah