The Bulldogs (25-5 last season) suffered a big blow last weekend when they lost No. 1 pitcher and senior Josh Rogers for the season with a torn ligament in his left elbow.
But New Albany still has some solid pitchers in junior Brandon Johnson and seniors Shane Robison (C/IF), Garrett Sherrell (C/OF) and Zach Worrall (1B/OF). Coach Chris McIntyre also expects big things from junior second baseman Tucker Marcum and senior center fielder Logan Striegel.
“Last year, we did not have a lot of question marks. This year, we have a lot of question marks,” McIntyre said. “The lineup will look a lot different from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. We lost two really good hitters [Jordan Striegel and Eric Burnett] from last year’s team and we were average on offense. We won last year with good pitching and tremendous defense. Early on, that’s going to have to be our recipe again.”
McIntyre, who has been the Bulldogs’ manager since 1995, says this is the most talent he has possibly ever seen in the HHC. He looks for Jeff, Seymour, Floyd Central, Bedford North Lawrence and Jennings County to be very competitive.
“Our conference is absolutely loaded,” McIntyre said. “There are 19 of 20 players overall who have committed to play college baseball and nine of them are [NCAA] Division I players. There are going to be some good teams who are not going to advance far in the state tournament.”
The Mustangs hope to build off of last year’s 10-11 record. Leading New Washington will be seniors Dustin Cooper (2B), Jake Harbin (3B), Josh Harbin (1B) and Cory Snider (SS). Juniors Danny Nix (OF/P) and Dalton Wingham (OF) and sophomores Joe Kehrwald (C), Lane Johnson (P/OF) and James Clemons (RF/P/SS) are expected to play key roles.
“I expect us to be in the right place defensively when the ball is hit,” Mustangs’ coach Scott Matthews said. “We want to stay away from mental mistakes. As far as batting, we want to be aggressive and to not get behind in the count.”