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Former Huskies big part of UAB plans for 2018 baseball campaign

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

BIRMINGHAM — Former Hewitt-Trussville standouts Carter Pharis and Tyler Tolbert have already made their marks at UAB, but Blazers baseball coach Brian Shoop is counting on them even more for the 2018 season.

Hewitt-Trussville’s Carter Pharis is one of the school’s athletes making a splash at UAB baseball. File photo by Ron Burkett

“Carter has been a two-year starter for us starting at third, first and DH,” Shoop said. “I think he is one of the outstanding players in our league.”

Pharis started in 54 games as a sophomore proving himself to be a mainstay in the lineup. He led the team in hits (62), doubles (15) and putouts (33). Additionally, he ranked in the top-three in batting average (.305), runs (32), home runs (three), RBI (30), total bases (86), on-base percentage (.381) and stolen bases (8-for-8).

“I think he will hit right in the middle of our lineup, still not sure where he will play but he could play second, first or third but he will be in there in some capacity hitting in the middle of the lineup.

“He was in the Cape Cod League this summer and competed very well in that premier league. Now he is a junior in our program transitioning into one of our leaders.”

Tolbert had a up-and-down freshman season but had big moments. Then he was a standout in summer league play.

“Tyler was the 2016 7A High School Player of the Year out of Trussville. He started a lot of games as a freshman and like many freshmen he found the transition from high school to college as a challenging one, lost some confidence and struggled the majority of the time.

“He regained his confidence playing in the Great Lakes league, was voted the fourth best pro prospect in the league.

Tolbert appeared in 40 games with 31 starts as a freshman on campus. His biggest impact was on the bases as he picked up 11 stolen bases on 12 attempts. He spent his summer with the Lima Locos where he was tabbed an All-Star in the Great Lakes Summer League.

“There is not a team in Conference USA that would not want Tyler Tolbert on their team. He is electric, a game changer with his speed and the energy he plays with. He could play almost anywhere on the field for us but will probably either be in center field or left field.”

Clay-Chalkville grads Thomas Johns and Matt Calvert are also going to be counted on to.

Johns is perhaps the Blazers’ best power hitter.

“Thomas is a first baseman and a designated hitter. Big, strong, physical, left-handed hitter and has the potential to hit for power for us. It is hard to hit for power at Regions Field and Young Memorial. UAB is never going to lead the league in home runs due to the parks we play in, but he has home run power. He is an exciting guy to watch and if we can get it translated into games he can play a big role for us.”

Johns played in 40 games with 33 starts, the most among UAB freshmen, in 2017. He hit a superb .241 with 15 runs, seven doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, 12 walks and was one of two freshmen with multiple home runs.

Calvert saw his role increase as a sophomore posting career highs in appearances (15), innings pitched (21.2) and strikeouts (22). The lefty made his first career start in a Tuesday night matchup at Alabama.

“So proud of Matt. He walked on here two years ago and this is his third year. He has developed into one of our leaders. He is mature, he has matured in the classroom, he has matured off the field and on the field. He is a left-handed pitcher from Clay-Chalkville that is ready to play a big role. He has earned a scholarship here.

“I think of Matt Calvert and I think this is what you want development to look like in a person in every area. People might remember last year when he proposed on Regions Field before the game and that is a pretty neat story as well.”

Springville High grad Bailey Smith is redshirting this season after transferring from Lawson State.

UAB opens its season Friday with Bowling Green in a three-game series at Regions Field.

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