The 2007 Thomson High School baseball season gets underway unofficially tomorrow with a scrimmage against Evans and officially on Tuesday against Jefferson County. Both games will be played at the Thomson High diamond and start at 5 p.m.
"The coaches asked for a scrimmage game, and the state granted it but then took away a week of preseason practice," said Coach Terry Holder. "I'm not real sure of the thinking behind all of that. The scrimmage should be informal with mostly free substitution if Evans coach Ricky Beale is OK with that."
Coach Holder will be counting on the leadership of six seniors on this year's squad. Those six are catcher Aaron McCorkle, outfielder Anthony "Pooh" Erwin; pitcher/infielders Phillip Bonner, Evan Howard, Drew Usry and utility man R.C. Smith.
"Those six have already showed excellent leadership during practices," said Coach Holder. "That is a big step in the right direction toward having a better team."
Coach Holder expects the team to be improved from the 2006 edition that qualified for the first round of the state playoffs before succumbing to Spalding High School. The season record last year was 16-11, including an 11-2 finish to the regular season.
"We'll be a better team I'm sure," said Coach Holder. "Whether that translates into more wins and a trip to the playoffs, only time will tell," he said. "I can see the biggest improvement in defense and I feel like our pitching will be better too.
The pitching staff is expected to be led by a junior transfer from Hephzibah, Steven Krepps. Evan Howard and Phillip Bonner will vie for the second starting spot, although Bonner thrived last year in a relief role. Others that should contribute from the hill are Will Anderson, Clint Rushing, Justin McCorkle and Drew Usry.
Coach Holder acknowledged that it is difficult to prejudge a team's hitting prowess during cold weather practices and games. He does feel that this being his second year at the helm of the Bulldog program gives him an advantage, as opposed to just starting from scratch. It should also make the players more comfortable with his style of coaching and in turn more comfortable and confident on the field.
Coach Holder was very complimentary of assistant coaches Aaron Hall, Jason Osborn and Craig Chapman. "Those guys are extraordinary in their work habits and dedication and are really big in getting this program going," he said. "I can't say enough good things about them."
The goal for Thomson High baseball is simple.
"Our goal this year is the same as last year. We have to win as many as we can the best way we can and get into the playoffs. At that point we'll do what we can to advance," said Coach Holder.