Blue Ridge opens 2018 baseball season
By Dan Brown / Staff
CASHIERS -- There has been one on-field opponent the Blue Ridge Early College Bobcat baseball team has not been able to handle.
Bobcat baseball Coach Jason Watson said the spring so far has been a story of frustrated landscaping.
“We’ve spent three weeks trying to get the field ready only to have it come up and rain like crazy for two-or-three days,” he said.
Or snow, which remains part of Saturday’s press-time weather forecast.
So far, this young baseball season, the Bobcats have had a pair of games washed out by the weather, and with taking an early spring break this week, Blue Ridge won’t begin its season in earnest until the week of March 13 when the Bobcats hit the road for three straight games against Hayesville, Cherokee and Next Charter. Blue Ridge won’t debut at home until March 20, against Andrews.
Blue Ridge being an early college, coincides its spring breaks with Southwestern Community College.
What this means, his young baseball team will be learning on the fly this season. After graduating five seniors who shouldered the bulk of the team’s at-bats and innings pitched in 2017, Watson is faced with getting his squad game ready
Coming off a 6-12 season in 2017, with a 5-11 Big Smoky Mountain Conference record, the 2018 edition of the BREC Bobcats have some serious holes to fill on the field, according to Watson.
Try replacing a graduating mound staff that tossed more than 75 innings last year. Doing this is at the top of Watson’s To Do list.
“We have just two returning starters, Carter Ferrin and Carter Watson, who played in all our games last year,” Watson said. “Jonathan Jennings and Jacob Pressler will also get a lot of pitching time.”
Indiana Jones is the lone senior on this year’s team, and according to Watson, he’s been hitting the ball well in practice.
“He will DH and play some first base,” he said. “Indy’s been making some good contact in practice.”
This is a team in need of game experience, and the only place to get that experience is between the white lines.
“We will definitely be learning on the job,” Watson said. “We’re a work in progress.”
With just one senior returning from last year’s squad, these young Bobcats may take their knocks some this year, but they will learn, and they will become game-tested quickly.
“This will be a trial by fire, for sure,” Watson said.
Hitters need their cuts, fielders need ground ball reps, and pitchers need to pitch, Watson said.
Fielding means improving on its 50 errors committed in 16 ball games at an average of more than three errors a game.
Pitching means cutting down on walks, at more than three free passes per game, and a team ERA of 5.87 per game.
These young guys are getting their reps during practice, but the problem there is getting on a dry field.
“They got a lot of experience last year during practices,” Watson said. “They are looking good so far this year. “We are laying the foundation for the next two and years. These guys are going to be playing together for a while.”
In addition to lone senior Indiana Jones, the 2018 Bobcats include Branson Carlisle, Braden Collins, Colton Taylor, Mason Baumgarner, Adam Frady, Jonathan Jennings, Logan Bryson, Carter Ferrin, James Jacoy, Carter Watson, Jacob Presler, Julio Martinez and Wyatt Whitmire.
2018 BLUE RIDGE BASEBALL SCHEDULE
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13 -- Blue Ridge hosts Next Charter.
• 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 16 -- Blue Ridge visits Cherokee.
• 4 p.m. Monday, March 19 -- Blue Ridge visits Next Charter.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 -- Blue Ridge hosts Andrews.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 -- Blue Ridge hosts Murphy.
• 4:30 p.m. Thursday March 29 -- Blue Ridge hosts Robbinsville.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 -- Blue Ridge hosts Hiwassee Dam.
• 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 6 -- Blue Ridge hosts Hayesville.
• 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 13 -- Blue Ridge hosts Rosman.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17 -- Blue Ridge hosts Cherokee.
• 4:30 p.m. Thursday April 19 -- Blue Ridge visits Smoky Mountain.
• 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 20 -- Blue Ridge visits Swain.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 -- Blue Ridge visits Hiwassee Dam.
• 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 27 -- Blue Ridge visits Swain.
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 -- Blue Ridge visits Andrews.
• 4:30 p.m. Thursday May 3 -- Blue Ridge visits Murphy.
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