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Lancaster High School third-year head baseball coach Brett Blackmon says his 2011 Bruins team will be young, but athletic this spring.
LHS returns three starters, but has its share of experience in returnees from the 2010 team which went 9-17.
The LHS starters include seniors Zack Rollings, shortstop Eric Mojica and outfielder Scott Mathis. Rollings, who has played several positions in his LHS baseball career, will be at catcher. Mojica, a two-year starter, is at short and Mathis leads the outfield play.
Wyatt Duncan, a sophomore up from the junior varsity team, will be at first base where sophomore Gabe Glover and Andrew Ferguson, a junior, will see time.
Junior Jonah Crenshaw, who played on the Junior Bruins’ team last season when he earned the team’s Most Valuable Hitter Award, will handle second base.
Senior Dylan Sinclair, a varsity returnee, will be at third base. Brien Clyburn, who led the team in homers – seven, will also work at third. He is one of three players who joined the team off the 19-8 LHS basketball squad which earned a Class AAAA Upstate playoff bid. The seasoned Mojica, named LHS’s Most Improved Player last season, rounds out the infield at short.
Mathis leads the Bruins’ outfield play which includes seniors Dalton Johnson, Trai Sanders along with junior Michael Cooper and Khoury Phillips, a sophomore. The strong-armed Johnson won the outfield throw skills competition held at the recent Gameday at Doomsday baseball jamboree.
Five players are expected to see action on the mound, including seniors Ron Trapps, Richie Robinson along with Glover, Sanders and C.D. Pelham, a sophomore, will also work in the LHS rotation.
“I feel good about our pitching,” Blackmon said. “The bulk of them are tall, rangy and athletic.”
Blackmon, assisted by Kyle Liebler and Josh Pauling, who guides the jayvee program, said the Region III-AAAA race will be competitive.
“We add two solid programs in Gaffney and Spartanburg,” Blackmon said. “It will be a tough region from top to bottom. I feel it will be competitive all the way through.”
Blackmon said pitching is the key for the Bruins.
“Several sophomores will have to come through,” Blackmon said. “How quickly they mesh with the other group will be vital for us this season.
“That’s where our senior leadership is going to have to step up and carry the load,” Blackmon said. “As a team, we’re down a little in experience, but what we lack, I feel we will make up in our athleticism.”
Lancaster opens its season Monday when the Bruins host Spartanburg in region play at 7 p.m. LHS visits York on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and faces Andrew Jackson on Friday night at 7.
“We have a challenging stretch as we open the season, but it should give us a good indication about where we are at this point in the season,” Blackmon said.