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2009 PREP BASEBALL PREVIEW: The Meade County Green Wave (03/22)

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By Greg Crews

 

By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com BRANDENBURG — Few teams swung the sticks like the Meade County Green Wave last season. Few teams played defense like the Green Wave, either. Meade County had little problem producing runs last season, averaging 6.1 per game, but usually negated that stat as it allowed an area-worst 7.9 runs per game en route to a 5-14 record and an exit in the first round of the 11th District Tournament. Now, the Green Wave are looking to keep the batting and tune up the defense under first-year head coach Todd Clanton. “Defense has been a big focus. I was looking through the books and we made 70 errors last year (3.7 per game),” Clanton said. “We’ve done a lot more fundamental work and I think the kids are taking it to heart. We scrimmaged Elizabethtown the other night and we still made a lot of early season mistakes, but fielding the ball was much improved.” The Green Wave lost six players to graduation from last year’s team and will also be without senior J.D. Hardesty, who batted an area-best .510 last year. However, they do return a big bat in senior shortstop Mikie DeRossett, who belted an area-best five home runs in the regular season last year, while tying for eighth in runs (21) and doubles (five). “Mikie has been really strong with the bat,” Clanton said. “He has really stepped up and taken charge.” DeRossett will also be competing for a spot in Meade County’s pitching rotation along with juniors Justin Amburgey and Andrew Oliver and freshman Bo Wilson. “(Amburgey) has looked really well,” Clanton said. “He’s not overpowering, but he is hitting his spots.” Clanton said the catcher position is still up for grabs and will likely go to either sophomore Sean Brotzge, senior Alex Furnival or freshman Brady Smith. “It’s still an open competition right now,” Clanton said. “(Brotzge) is leading the way right now. He handles defense and handles pitchers really well.” At first base will be Oliver, while sophomore Brenton Smith will be at second. “(Oliver) is real solid with his glove. He’s got soft hands,” Clanton said. “(Smith) really set himself apart with his glove and his bat.” Along with DeRossett at shortstop, the infield is rounded out by Amburgey and junior Daniel DeRossett, who will split time at third base. In left field will be senior Jimmie Patterson, while sophomore J.B. Greer will be in right. “Jimmie is probably our most fundamentally sound outfielder. He has an accurate arm and he makes all the plays in the corner that we need him to,” Clanton said. “(Greer) is a lot like Jimmie, he makes the plays we need him to.” In center field will be Wilson, while junior Zach Taulbee will also see time there. “(Wilson) is a middle infielder that we’ve moved out there,” Clanton said. “He’s got good speed, he’s a good athlete and he’s making progress.” Clanton feels the entire team is making progress from last season and one reason why is the weather. Last season the Green Wave hardly had a chance to practice before the start of the season as a tornado tore through Brandenburg — and the baseball complex — just before practice was scheduled to get under way. This year the team has stayed on track with practice and perhaps a little ahead of schedule with its conditioning. “Our approach is a little different,” Clanton said of his staff. “I don’t know a whole lot about what they did in the past, but I think we’ve done a bit more conditioning and we’ve been working a lot on the kid’s mental focus. “We’re trying not to have so many mental lapses this season.” If the Green Wave can manage to do that on defense, while keeping up last year’s batting, good things may be in store. Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754