(by Don Meador, The Citizen-Times, March 8, 2018, used with permission)
An experienced Allen County-Scottsville baseball team will start the 2018 season hopeful of a winning season, a District 15 title, and a return trip to the Region 4 tournament. The team’s roster includes a multitude of players that has gained valuable skills in inning-after-inning over the past several seasons---a fact that brings optimism to Patriot baseball.
“This will be the first time in three years that we are able to return the majority of our pitching, the majority of our starters, and the majority of our offensive line-up,” sixth-year coach Scott Stamper said. “We have six seniors and seven juniors on the varsity squad. We also have all of our pitchers coming back and we expect those guys to go to work for us on the hill.”
The Patriots are anchored by a senior class with several players that have been a part of the program since middle school. The class includes Warren Bray, Marcus Carter, Jordan Charlton, Drew Meador, Sheldon Peay, and Josh Ward.
“This is a unique group that, for the most part, has been around for a long time,” Stamper explained. “They are finally seniors. Most of these guys came in as freshman and eighth graders and stepped into a role quickly due to injuries and other things.”
Coach Stamper notes that each senior brings offensive and defensive skills to the line-up.
“Drew has been our mainstay behind the plate of two to three seasons,” Stamper said. “Sheldon Peay will be our work horse on the mound and see some action behind the plate and at third base. Marcus Carter returns as our first baseman. Warren Bray solidified our outfield last year and is a big offensive component for us. Jordan Charlton is the type of kid every coach loves to have on their team and he will be in our starting rotation. Josh Ward is the exception as he is a new player. We will us him in some relief roles.”
The Patriots were hopeful of the return of senior Chase Wilson---a solid component of the Patriot baseball program as a freshman and sophomore. However, a second knee injury at the end of last fall’s football season ended Wilson’s hopes of a return to the diamond this year.
Joining the senior class will be a talented and experienced junior group which includes Zac Ausbrooks, Tristen Brooks, Hunter Foster, Aaron Howell, Colby Lafitte, Brett Rippy, and Cayden Ross.
“Zac is expected to be a front-end guy for us on the mound,” Stamper said. “We are looking to get him several starts this year. He is recovering from an arm injury last year and hopefully he’ll be at 100 percent real soon. Cayden Ross and Aaron Howell solidified our outfield last year. Our outfield has a motto that if it’s in the air, you are out. Cayden and Aaron joins Warren in the outfield and gives us a strong defensive prescience. Around the infield, Brett Rippy will be our shortstop. Colby Lafitte is our second base kind of guy and I expect him to step into a bigger role this year. Tristen Brooks is a jack-of-all-trades that may be our best defensive first, second, or third baseman. We will also rely on Tristen for offense. Hunter Foster will step into a pitching role. I have told him that he will get a start at least one day a week and I’m not coming to get him. Hunter has matured physically and he is ready for that. He may also see some time in the DH (designated hitter) role as well.”
The sophomore class includes Hagen Foster, Tanner McPeak, Owen Stamper, and Zane Ward.
“Owen has a chance to do some good things on the mound and he will also have to be a jack-of-all-trades as well,” Stamper noted. “Owen may have to catch, play third, and may end up in the outfield depending on whose is on the mound. Zane Ward is an outfielder that is pushing for time, Hagen Foster is coming off an eye injury but has been swinging the bat well, and, and Tanner McPeak is a catcher at the JV level that pushing for time on the varsity.”
The Patriot varsity is expected to be strengthen throughout the season as younger players get innings of experience during games on the JV and freshman schedule.
“We have six freshman on the overall roster that will give us a solid JV/freshman team,” Stamper added. “One freshman, Matthew Brown, is also in the running for maybe some relief time at the varsity level. Tyler Ford and Jacob Sims has looked good. All the freshmen are working really hard.”
The Patriots’ schedule includes home-and-away matchups with each district opponent) Barren County, Glasgow, Monroe County) as well as many of the Region 4 teams---including traditional powers Logan County, Bowling Green, South Warren, and Franklin-Simpson. AC-S will face non-Region schools Christian County, Bullitt Central, and Breckinridge County and play the Tennessee schools of Smith County, Jackson County, and Gallatin in a Border Battle series the third weekend of April. Overall, the Patriots are scheduled to play 22 games at Patriot Field.
The Patriot baseball program will also include a new face on the coaching staff. Former pitcher Brantley Bray returns to AC-SH after attending college and playing baseball at the University of the Cumberlands. Former player Justin Spears will also assist with the team this year.
“The big question this year will be if we can score enough runs and keep enough runs off the board,” Stamper added. “We will continue to push. I believe we will be competitive day in and day out. We will give it a good run.”
AC-S finished 13-17 last year, losing to Barren County in the first round of the District 15 tournament. The Trojans went on to defeat Glasgow in the district championship before losing to Logan County in the quarterfinals of the region. Franklin-Simpson captured the region last year.
The Patriots will scrimmage Saturday 11 a.m. at Greenwood. The season opener is slated for Tuesday, March 20, at 5 p.m. at Warren East. The home opener is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 against Metcalfe County.