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Chiefland baseball was like a heavy spear last year – strong hitting in support of heavyweight pitchers Ory Pitts and Daniel Galpin. The Indians were 18-3 going into districts when the unthinkable happened – they were eliminated in a loss to a P.K. Yonge team they'd beaten twice already.
Head Coach Kyle Parnell remembers it well.
“We lost 2-0,” he said.
“Ory pitched well. We just didn't generate any runs.”
Still, last year's was a good group, he recalls.
“We won six or seven games by one run,” said Parnell.
“That was a team that knew how to win close games.”
This year, he hopes to have the same kind of team.
Pitts has graduated, of course, taking a scholarship to Pensacola Junior College and playing well enough in the fall to earn a spot on the roster this spring. Senior Jeremy Hayes and Adam Burton will step up this year to lead from the mound.
“Jeremy is probably our most experienced pitcher at the varsity level,” said Parnell.
“We're hoping to get a lot of innings out of him.”
Burton should be a great complement to Hayes' experience.
“We're expecting great things this year out of Adam at shortstop and on the mound,” said Parnell.
Also in the pitching mix will be Jacob Reidy, who will play first and third base as needed, and Clenton Wasson, who led the team last year in batting average and who also plays center field.
“We hope he'll continue to do big things with his bat,” said Parnell.
Parnell said the Indians have only four seniors this year, including Hayes, catcher Michael Perkins (“probably the best catcher in the area”), left-handed DH Dane Cothron and second baseman Josh Wasson, who is still playing basketball.
“I'm really looking forward to getting Josh back,” Parnell said.
“He'll strengthen us up the middle.”
Talented freshman Alden Davis will fill in at second until Wasson returns. Parrish Parnell will play second and third.
“We're doing a lot of shuffling now, and we'll do a little more after we get the basketball players back,” Parnell.
“We're trying to get the best combination of defense and bats.
Expected from basketball are, besides Wasson, Jakarr White, Bo Beauchamp, Marquis Greene, Derick Allen and Travis Wayans.
Parnell has high hopes for this season, despite having such a young team. Varsity assistant Don Lawrence is back for his 10th season (“at least – it might be more”), and this year, Adam Gore joins the staff as JV head coach and varsity assistant.
“It's nice having someone to take over those duties,” Parnell said.
“Don and I did JV ourselves last year, and on game day, our varsity guys would be going through their pregame while we were coaching the JV. It'll be nice to have another good coach on the field.”
Chiefland baseball opens up with its First Pitch Classic Feb. 10, 12 and 13. Chiefland plays each day at 7 p.m.
“We'll keep the young guys up for the preseason tournament because basketball won't be done yet,” said Parnell.
“We'll get everyone some innings.”