With a new coach at the helm, practice is well underway for the Briarwood Academy Diamond Buccaneers who are preparing for a season opening tournament on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, at Westminster School in Augusta.
The Diamond Bucs have a strong nucleus of experienced and talented players, including pitchers, returning from last year's region championship team.
"We've had back-to-back (GISA 1AA) region championships, and we're looking forward to making this year a 'three-peat,'" Coach Kenny Haney said. "In fact, I honestly expect us to play in the final (GISA AA state semi-finals) four. We have enough talent and the pitching."
Although short in numbers with only 14 players, the team is long in talent and will rely heavily on their four seniors, especially pitchers Blake Stitcher and Dustin Pilgrim, according to Coach Haney. Will Quinn will see most of his playing time at first base, but will also lend a hand in the outfield. The team's fourth senior, Tyler Wester, will be unable to play for much of the season due to a shoulder injury suffered during football.
The Bucs have a solid infield returning from last year. Composed mainly of juniors, this year's infield will have junior Joseph Batrous at shortstop, junior Seth Williford at third base, sophomore Ethan DeMore at second base, and junior David Russell at first base.
Russell will alternate at catcher with sophomore John Spivey. When Spivey isn't behind the plate catching, he'll be playing infield, according to Coach Haney.
Junior Jacob Gay will play in centerfield. Senior Quinn and junior Charlie Hall will also be playing in the outfield, as will freshmen Cane Gilmer and Ryan Gerlach.
Junior Chris Gerlach will be the team's "utility" player, according to Coach Haney.
The Bucs 20-game regular season schedule will begin on Monday, March 6, at Briarwood against region 1AA foe Edmund Burke Academy of Waynesboro.