Brooks: ‘Youth won’t be excuse’ for BRHS baseballPublished 10:40am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By Ed Bailey
After a 17-17 season that ended with a first-round playoff exit, BRHS baseball coach Richy Brooks said he is confident that the Wildcats baseball team will return to the diamond chomping at the bit.
“Getting a taste of going to the playoffs in 6A was big for us,” Brooks said. “Now they want more.”
Brooks said that the team’s hurlers can be a strength for the Wildcats.
BRHS ace and junior pitcher Zac Rogers leads a deep rotation into the season.
Rogers posted a 1.38 ERA and fanned 72 batters last year and according to Brooks, he’s one of 16 Wildcats that can go out and give the team a quality outing.
“We go deep in pitching,” he said. “I’m not scared to put any of them out there. It’s not dominant pitching but it’s good enough to beat people in high school if they perform like we know they can.”
Another thrower that Brooks likes is senior infielder/pitcher Craig Crouch.
“We’re really expecting big things from Craig in pitching,” he said. “He’s one of those big, tall rangy guys that just figured out his body.”
On the offensive side, juniors Bryant Horn and Caleb Brooks return for the Wildcats.
Horn batted .352 with 17 RBIs and Caleb batted .311 with 20 RBIs.
“We feel like we’ve got the nucleus to have a good hitting team,” Brooks said.
Another player that Brooks has high expectations for is outfielder Marquise Odom.
“We’re counting on big things from (Odom) this year,” Brooks said. “We need him to be a top of the lineup guy that can get on base. He can run well and hopefully he’s able to set the table for our guys to knock him in.”
Versatility is something that Brooks said the team enjoys in spades.
He added that senior Blake McClellan personifies that ability and is the glue of the infield unit.
“He’s as good a leader as we’ve got,” Brooks said of McClellan, who is one of three seniors on the team. “He didn’t have a great offensive year last year, but I expect him to have a big year this year. He can play any one of the infield positions that we put him at. We’ll be counting on him for good senior leadership.”
The biggest changes that Brooks said he has seen from his team from last year to now is an improved team attitude and chemistry.
“Our attitude and chemistry as an entire team is a lot better,” Brooks said. “We seem to be pulling in the right direction. We’re really focusing hard on not worrying about individual accomplishments, but rather worrying about what we do as a team. I think we lost sight of that last year a little bit. That’s not a knock on the guys who are no longer with us as we were a part of it too — me as a coach, the players that are returning, we were all a part of it.”
Brooks said despite the lack of seniors on the team, the juniors and sophomores are loaded with experience and are ready to go.
“Youth will not be an excuse for us not to perform well,” he said. “Our talent level is good enough where we feel like youth won’t be a factor. Either we play well or we won’t.”