P-31 juniors seek to continue success

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By Robert Howey

The 2009 Lancaster Post 31 junior team faces a challenge this season after a record run by the 2008 P-31 team last summer.

The 2008 team, which finished 16-10, earned a first-ever state tournament bid and placed third in the Lake City field.

The 2009 team, led by first-year coach Josh Pauling, sports a solid unit, including a host of players who played a year ago when the P-31 junior team qualified for the playoffs as the League V runner-up.

“I’m definitely excited to see the team come together this year. For a junior team, we’re very deep with a lot of experienced players,” said Pauling, who is assisted by Jonathan Beckham and Steve Sinclair. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to build on the junior team achievements from last year.

“The team is very solid, so I have been encouraging them to ‘show me what you got’ at each practice and work hard to prove themselves each day, to make every cut at the plate and every repetition in the field count for something,” said Pauling, the LHS junior varsity baseball coach. “ With this much talent, no one can rest on their laurels.”

The junior team has a solid group, starting at catcher with returnee Ricky Lewis, who had a strong season at Class A Upper State finalist Buford.

Lewis, the Coaches Award winner last season, will team with LHS newcomers Zack Rollings and Andrew Ferguson behind the plate.

Ferguson will also see playing time at first base with Tyler Rodgers, who plays at AJ, and Logan Segee, a Buford High School performer.

The P-31 juniors’ middle infield is deep with the versatile Lewis (BHS), Scott Mathis (LHS) and Dylan Sinclair (LHS) at second base.

Returnee Eric Mojica (LHS), Jacob Jamison (BHS) and Logan Hinson, who recently moved from Pennsylvania, will work at shortstop.

Dillon Hydrick, a Buford High standout and junior team veteran, will be a third base along with newcomers Tripp Rollings (AJ) and Wyatt Duncan (LHS).

The juniors’ outfield features a solid group, which will see time at various positions, depending on who is pitching. The outfield cast includes Bobby Delly (AJ), Dalton Johnson (LHS), Trai Sanders (LHS) and Justin Chambers (BHS).

“Some of our infielders with outfield experience may get some time in the outfield as well,” Pauling said.

The pitching staff sports a host of capable arms in Tripp Rollings, Zack Rollings, Mathis, Jamison, Segee, Sanders, Hydrick and Mojica.

“If we can establish an attitude of taking advantage of each opportunity that is given, I think we can go a long way,” said Pauling. “I look forward to continuing to work with fellow coaches Jonathan Beckham and Steve Sinclair as well.”

The P-31 junior team plays a 15-game League V schedule which includes Chester, Gaffney, Rock Hill, Union and York.

The P-31 junior team faces the P-31 senior team in the annual Legion baseball showcase game tonight at 7.

Contact Robert Howey at rhowey@thelancasternews.com