2020 BASEBALL PREVIEW: Panthers look to grow with a new coach and former player

Elizabethtown’s Camden Williams on the mound during the 2019 season. Williams is a junior for the Panthers.

This season of Eliza­bethtown High School baseball is one of new beginnings, but also familiar faces.

The Panthers have a new coach at the helm in Chase Greenwell. Last season, Greenwell served as the interim head coach for LaRue County, before taking the Elizabethtown job last June.

Over the nine months since then, Greenwell has been impressed by the work his players have shown to stay prepared.

“Our guys have work­ed really hard in the offseason,” Greenwell said. “We are really excited to get started and our guys are chomping at the bit to see what we can do on the field this year.”

While Greenwell is tak­ing on a new role as the Panthers’ skipper, he is no stranger to this program. Greenwell is a 2009 Elizabethtown graduate and played all four years of his high school career with the Panthers.

He went on to play college ball at John A. Logan Community College and Morehead State.

Back at his alma mater, Greenwell takes over a Panthers team that went 9-21 in 2019. The team went 4-5 in 17th District play and ended its season with a 8-7 loss to Central Hardin on May 21, 2019 in its district tournament opener.

Since the only way to go is up, Greenwell wants his players to work on honing their craft.

“Our goals are to continue to work and get better day in and day out. We’ve already seen an improvement since the first practice and we hope to continue to build on that improvement,” Greenwell said. “With a new coaching staff and new philosophy, the guys have been very receptive to the style of baseball we are wanting to play.”

This style so far has seen a focus on pitching and defense, an area Greenwell said has exceled so far.

Of the Panthers’ rotation last season, Camden Williams led the team in wins with four. Williams finished the season with a 3.27 ERA.

Dennis Bowen, Caleb Adams, now-graduated Luke Logan, Jacob Moberly and Hendrix Thomas all picked up one win each. As a team, the Panthers finished the season with a 5.73 ERA.

Greenwell also hopes to see continued growth for the Panthers on offense. Elizabethtown finished 2019 with a .293 batting average.

The team was led in hits by Ryan Pyles with 31 through 100 plate appearances. Pyles finished the season with a .369 batting average. Pyles also drove in 19 RBIs, second only to the now-graduated Spencer Brandenburg with 22.

“Our pitching and defense has been an area of strength and our hitting has improved weekly,” Greenwell said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement in all areas. We can’t wait to see what we do against another school so we can pinpoint exactly what we have to work on.”

Pyles, Williams, Moberly and Adams are all heading into their junior seasons and were all listed by Greenwell as having very productive offseasons and preseasons. Additional juniors Greenwell mentioned were Eli Brown and Brandon Parsons. Bowen is a senior and Thomas is a freshman.

This range of talent across different grades makes for some fuildity when it comes to game preparation.

“Our team will be a mix of upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. Our lineup really depends on who our opponent is so we like that flexibility,” Greenwell said. “It has been fun watching the kids push themselves and each other to get better individually and as a team.”

While certain players have shown strong growth individually, Greenwell’s goal is to see this mesh together and work for Elizabethtown as a whole in order to pick up more wins.

“Honestly, we are hoping the Panthers have a breakout season this year.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Previews were written before the shutdown of schools and the postponement of the spring season.

Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1754 or mtyson@thenewsenterprise.com.

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