Smithson, Madewell give Bulldogs big lift on the pitching moundPublished 5:43pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The return of five pitchers, two of whom were starters a year ago, is expected to give Priceville’s Bulldogs an edge on the competition during the 2013 baseball season.
“Pitching is going to be our strength because we have everyone back who played at that position last season and they all have game experience,” said 10-year head coach Shane Hopkins. “Typically, we’ve been a strong offensive team but we may not be able to muster that much power this year. That’s why we put a lot of emphasis on pitching and defense in the off-season and are continuing to do that in the pre-season.”
Hopkins pointed to two of his seniors – Allen Smithson and Ryan Madewell –as having the experience and skills to become effective team leaders.
As a pitcher last year, Smithson, a three-year starter, compiled a 7-2 record with a 3.61 ERA. He also played second base when not pitching and was his team’s third leading hitter with a .361 batting average.
Madewell, a four-year starter, led his team in hitting with a .508 average. He had 20 doubles and three home runs. On the mound, he had a 6-3 record with a 2.09 ERA.
Five other players, all of whom have varsity experience, are back for their senior season. They are pitchers Dillon Campbell and Mitchell Hallisey, pitcher/ outfielder Trey Jones and outfielder Jake Hamilton. In addition, Cody Barber is back for his junior season and is battling for a starting position in the outfield.
Newcomers who will be competing for playing time are juniors Justin Dozier and Landon Eddy, both infielders; Zac Smith, catcher; and Jacob Crow and Milik Orr, both pitchers.
Three of the players who helped the Bulldogs compile a 23-16 won-loss record and reach the second round of the playoffs in 2012 are no longer with the team.
Drew Cowan and Austin Smith graduated and Tyler Charest is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out for the season.
Cowan was the Bulldogs’ third leading hitter with a .420 batting average, 18 doubles, three home runs and 25 stolen bases. He is playing at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville this year.
Austin Smith was the team’s designated hitter.
Hopkins said his players had a successful off-season. They formed a team and competed in American Legion baseball and participated in a wooden bat tournament in Albertville. They also participated in fall workouts, lifting weights and practicing speed and agility drills.
The Bulldogs will move to Area 12 this year, competing against East Lawrence, Haleyville and Brooks.
“This is a tough area and it will be a challenge for us,” Hopkins stated. “Haleyville won the Class 4A state championship in 2009 and Brooks made it to the finals in 2011. East Lawrence will also be a tough opponent.”
“We have a good group of kids. Their work ethic is great and they enjoy being around each other both on and off the field,” Hopkins pointed out. “The biggest challenge they face is finding ways to score runs. “We’ll have players in the lineup that saw limited action under pressure a year ago. ”They’re the ones that we need to step up and contribute in all phases of the game.”
A highlight of the season for the 2013 Bulldogs will be a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. during spring break March 11-15. To fund the trip, players have conducted fundraisers in addition to receiving donations from the Town of Priceville.
Working with Hopkins as assistant coaches will be J.R. Dilbeck, Mitch Duke and Jacob Wray.
The Bulldogs participated in two pre-season tournaments. The varsity competed in the Times Daily Classic in Florence Feb. 18-28 and the junior varsity participated in the Athens Pre-Season Tournament Feb. 18-26.They will open their regular season on the road at Albertville on March 1 and open at home against Russellville on March 7.
March 1 at Albertville (JV) 4:30 p.m.
4 at Arab (JV) 4:30 p.m.
5 at Russellville (V) 4:30 p.m.
7 Russellville (JV) 4:30 p.m.
8 at Florence (V) 4:30 p.m.
9 Arab (V) 11 a.m.
10 at Disney World TBA
23 West Point (V) 11 a.m.
23 at Law. Co. (JV) 12 p.m.
25 at Haleyville (V,JV)) 4:30 p.m.
26 Haleyville (V) 4:30 p.m.
29-30 White Plains (V) TBA
April 1 at E. Lawrence (V,JV) 4:30 p.m.
2 East Lawrence (V) 4:30 p.m.
4 Ardmore (V) 4:30 p.m.
5 Lawrence County (JV) 4:30 p.m.
6 Lee at Joe Davis Stad. (V) TBA
8 at Brooks (V, JV) 4:30 p.m.
9 Brooks (V) 4:30 p.m.
10 Brewer (V) 2 p.m.
12 Lee (JV) 4:30 p.m.
13 Ardmore (V) 11 a.m.
15 Lawrence County (V) 4:30 p.m.