Eric Hilton said he is happy to be coaching a baseball team at Crothersville this spring.
In late March, it looked questionable if the Tigers were going be able to field a team. But after spring break, more athletes signed up.
The Tigers are schedule to open their season today against Henryville for a Southern Athletic Conference game.
There are 15 players on the roster, including four girls. There are two seniors, three juniors and 10 freshmen and sophomores. The seniors are Kate Frazier and Olivia Robinson.
“The exciting thing is we do have a great, young group coming up. We do have four or five freshmen that will be playing and three or four sophomores that will be playing, and the rest will be juniors,” Hilton said.
Matthew Clouse, Ian Tatlock and Andrew Mardis are the juniors.
Clouse played as a freshman, but the other two did not.
“They were coming out last year when the COVID struck,” Hilton said.
Clouse and Tatlock will share most of the catching duties with freshman Lucas Hilton also doing some catching.
“Our infield will be very young,” coach Hilton said. “We’ll still have Lucas Hilton, Logen O’Sullivan, Darren Maxie and Andrew Stainbrook in the infield, and we’ll alternate some of the players in and out.”
The coach said Nolan Brandenburg, Mardis and Elijah Plasse will be the main outfielders with the other players battling for playing time.
“We’ll be moving people around, and to say that they have a starting position at the same spot every time, it will not be that way this year,” Hilton said. “We’ll have everybody learn a spot each game, and in practice, we’re going after spots and we’re going to find out who our middle infield is and then the corners and all that.”
Clouse, Hilton, O’Sullivan, Maxie and Stainbrook handle the pitching chores.
“We are pretty strong on pitchers,” Hilton said. “We have five pitchers this year, but the bad thing is all of them are freshmen and sophomores except Clouse. They are all right-handers. Quite a few of them can get the ball over the plate. A lot of them played travel baseball last year.”
He said Clouse pitched some varsity as a freshman, while O’Sullivan and Maxie played travel ball last year and pitched in some of those games.
“It’s exciting as those boys start to grow their wings and get into the high school level,” he said.
Clouse said during his freshman year, he played in the infield and outfield in addition to doing some pitching.
“I was in a variety of spots,” he said.
On the mound, he said his No. 1 pitch is a fastball.
“Sometimes, my accuracy isn’t the greatest. I focus mainly on speed just because that’s who I am, but lately, I have been focusing on accuracy,” he said.
Clouse said when he’s not pitching, he prefers to play in the infield.
On offense, he said he doesn’t always expect to see a fastball on the first pitch.
“Most of the teams we play, the pitchers have more in their package, a variety of pitches,” he said. “They might start us off with a breaking ball. The fastball will probably not come until later. We need to be ready for anything.”
He looks forward to filling a leadership role.
“We have a very young team, so my goal is to help these guys get to where they want to be by their senior year because I know most of these guys have a love for this sport,” he said. “I want to help them improve.”
Coach Hilton said the outlook is growing from a young team and developing them as a young team so next year, they can be one of those teams that fights every game.
“This year, being young, it will be a struggle just to maintain a lot of positions because we do have some kids who haven’t played for a few years,” he said.
Seniors: Katie Frazier, Olivia Robinson
Juniors: Matthew Clouse, Andrew Mardis, Ian Tatlock
Sophomores: Darren Maxie, Devon Morgan, Zach Roberson, Andrew Stainbrook
Freshmen: Shilana Barks, Nolan Brandenburg, Scarlett Garcia-Zacarias, Lucas Hilton, Logen O’Sullivan, Elijah Plasse
Head coach: Eric Hilton
April 8 Henryville, 5 p.m.
April 9 Trinity Lutheran, 5 p.m.
April 15 West Washington, 5 p.m.
April 17 at Springs Valley (2), 11 a.m.
April 19 South Central, 5:30 p.m.
April 20 Christian Academy, 5 p.m.
April 28 at New Washington, 5 p.m.
May 1 at Shawe Memorial, 5 p.m.
May 3 Columbus Christian, 5 p.m.
May 4 South Ripley, 5 p.m.
May 8 at Crawford County, noon
May 11 at Edinburgh, 5:30 p.m.
May 12 Austin JV, 5 p.m.
May 15 at Cannelton (2), 11 a.m.
May 18 at Lanesville, 5:30 p.m.
May 21 South Decatur, 5 p.m.
May 22 Orleans, 5 p.m.
May 24 at Southwestern (Hanover), 5 p.m.
May 29 Sectional