As the start of baseball season draws near, the Bearden Bulldogs feel that they are ready for another deep postseason run.
After finishing up last season with a 22-13-1 record, the Bulldogs think that they have what it takes and the key components to best that previous record.
Bearden is bringing strong underclassman play as well as some veteran players to the table. One of those veterans just happens to be pro prospect senior Lane Thomas.
Thomas is coming off a busy offseason in which he participated in Team USA baseball. Although it was busy, it was an offseason of improvement for Thomas.
“I think the biggest thing I got out of the offseason was the mental preparation part of it,” Thomas said. “Those experiences will help me prepare for the stress of the coming season.”
Of course, as a player with his type of skill, Thomas is often walked and doesn’t always get the chance he wants. But if he gets that chance, he takes advantage of it.
“Last year we saw a lot of teams walk him intentionally and unintentionally,” Coach John Rice said. “We hope that this season he sees a lot of pitches; if he does, you know he is going to hit the ball well.”
However, this year’s team isn’t all about Thomas. Other stars include last year’s all-district selections seniors Brandon Black and Elijah Helton. Both are expected to have similar seasons this time around.
Other players to watch out for are junior Brock Vaughn and freshman David Beam. Vaughn is expected to have a breakout season as catcher and Beam is a highly regarded pitcher.
All in all, Bearden has put together a strong team for this season, but Coach Rice said that his team will have to be on top of their game each week, seeing as district rivals Farragut, Maryville, and Hardin Valley have also put together some quality teams of their own.
“They all have elite-level players who can change games, and we will need to be on our game when we meet these guys in the regular and post-season,” Coach Rice said.
Coach Rice said that he expects there to be many bumps along the way, but that his team will grow and improve each week as they go deeper into the season. The Bulldogs will host William Blount at 6 p.m. for their season opener on March 10th.
“Hopefully we will have put the pieces together and will be dominate come May,” Coach Rice said.