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The Meade County Green Wave aren’t living in the past. The Green Wave advanced to the state tournament last season after winning their first region title since 1993, but this is a new year.
The Green Wave are focused on putting last season in the rearview mirror. They’ve turned their attention to this year and making another deep postseason run.
“We’re very proud of what we accomplished last year,” Meade County coach Todd Clanton said. “The first thing we talked about was last year was fun, but this is this year. It’s a new team. We have the same goal, but nothing is guaranteed.”
Meade County won a school-record 27 games and made its first appearance in the final four at State, losing to Henderson County, 10-6.
Clanton has been preaching to his team about building on what the previous team accomplished since becoming coach. After reaching the top of the region last year, now it becomes a new challenge.
“Last year was huge,” Clanton said. “It showed our kids what we can accomplish. We talked about getting to the region, and then getting to the region semifinals. After getting to the region semifinals, we talked about getting to the region finals. Anything can happen when you get there. We want that to be our goal now.”
If the Green Wave are going to make another deep postseason run, they are going to have to do it without some key members from last year. Gone are Bo Wilson, Garrett Ledford, Brady Smith, Andrew Zabel and Daniel Kaiser.
Wilson and Ledford combined for 20 wins last season, including two at State. Smith was a four-year starter at catcher and one of the team’s leading hitters along with Bo Wilson and Ledford.
Senior Kaleb Lancaster shifts from third base to catcher. Lancaster batted .325 with 10 doubles and a home run last season. Freshman Josh Durbin will back up Lancaster.
“He has a lot of varsity experience,” Clanton said of Lancaster. “When Bo was hurt two years ago, we moved Brady in the field and put Kaleb behind the plate. He’s just as good as Brady defensively.”
Senior Jake Wilson, who hit .324 last season, returns at first base, while junior Keith Carter will play first when Jake Wilson pitches. Freshman Kase Mattingly is back at shortstop. The rest of the infield will be new with senior Derek Bruner moving from the outfield to second and sophomore Logan Hicks and freshman Ty Curry battling for the third base job.
“We feel like we’ll be more athletic in the infield than in the past for what that’s worth,” Clanton said. “Jake is a big target at first with soft hands. He does a good job. Kase is more comfortable this year.”
Freshman John Michael Millay returns in center field. He’s flanked by junior Zeb Wilson in left and senior Zach Kullman in right. Wilson has been slowed by an injury, which has opened the door for sophomore Kurt Hall and Carter to earn some playing time.
“We felt like John Michael was a strength last year and he’s much better this year,” Clanton said. “He moves so well and gets great jumps. We feel like once we’re healthy the outfield will be a strength for us.”
Jake Wilson is the most experienced pitcher after tossing more than 50 innings last season. The big left-hander posted a 3.08 ERA with a 5-5 record. Zeb Wilson gained experience last year and will see an increased role as will Carter, a left-hander who Clanton is excited about. Hall, Hicks, Mattingly and Millay will also pitch.
“We’ve talk about not having Bo and Garrett,” Clanton said. “We’re not going to be getting double-digit strikeouts. We need to throw strikes and be around the zone and we need to play good defense. We need to score runs ourselves this year. We might have to change our style of play and become more aggressive.”
The Green Wave will have a new-look offense with Mattingly and Millay in the top two spots followed by Lancaster and Wilson. The rest of the order is uncertain.
“Hitting from top to bottom is a concern,” Clanton said. “We have a lot of inexperience at the bottom. We’re learning the right approach. We know there’s going to be growing pains. We’re not worried about wins and losses, but to make sure we’re taking steps to becoming a better a team.”
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.