Young Pinson Valley staying process oriented
By Gary Lloyd
PINSON — Shane Chappell says it’s going to be a fun season because it will be a challenge.
Last season, Chappell’s first as the Pinson Valley head baseball coach, the roster featured 14 seniors. Players’ roles were known, their strengths pretty much defined.
This year, though, there are just seven seniors. There are seven juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. Roles are still being figured out. Strengths and weaknesses are being discovered.
There are really no returning starters from last year’s Pinson Valley baseball team, which posted a 32-14 record and reached the Class 5A semifinals. Chappell said there are four players on the current roster who were role players a season ago, some that had “spot starts” every now and then.
Pinson Valley lost most of its infield experience and pitchers who compiled about 180 to 190 of the team’s 220 innings pitched last season. Most of this year’s team earned its first varsity experience on Opening Day at Clay-Chalkville on Feb. 17.
“We’re very young experience wise,” Chappell said. “I like our club. I think we’ve got a chance to have another good year.”
Last year’s team was built on a quality pitching staff. This year’s team will be built more on its offense. This team has a lot of speed and most all in the lineup can drop a bunt.
Chappell said he’s looking for his players to compete and be process oriented. A young team will make mistakes early in the season, but they’re OK if the players learn from them, he said.
Senior Brent Stephens, a Calhoun Community College signee, leads the pitching staff. He threw five scoreless innings against Clay-Chalkville on Opening Day. Senior Zac Ray will see significant time on the mound.
Junior Hunter Davidson will likely be one of the team’s top two pitchers. Davidson, brother of junior shortstop Destin Davidson, broke his tibia and fibula in October during P.E. basketball, Chappell said. He wasn’t expected back until late March or early April, but he pinch-hit against Clay-Chalkville and has begun pitching some. Chappell said his presence will make a “world of difference” for the pitching staff.
Junior third baseman Baker Hodge made clutch plays as a sophomore last season and junior catcher Gage Farley is solid behind the plate.
Chappell said he doesn’t talk about goals much. The Class 5A playoffs are an expectation. He said this team is going to compete until the last pitch, just as it did in the second game against Clay-Chalkville on Feb. 17. Down 10-6 entering the top of the seventh, Pinson Valley rallied for three runs before a groundout ended the game. There were still two runners on base.
“You have a down year when you choose to have it,” Chappell said. “For us, our expectations are what they were last year. We’re going to compete to win and whatever happens, happens.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.