Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

April 3, 2014

63rd District Baseball Preview: Pitching key, coaches say

ASHLAND — Of its 24 wins last season, 18 of them went to pitchers who are no longer on Greenup County’s roster.

Meanwhile, Lewis County returns its ace (and more). Russell coach Mike Martino likes his top arm. Raceland is, in a sense, in the same boat as the Musketeers, having graduated its No. 1 pitcher.

Martino, one of the longest-tenured coaches in the region, knows as well as anyone that the most important game of the season is the district tournament’s opening-round duel. The victor punches a ticket into the 16th Region Tournament.

Having quality pitchers never fails to be one of the biggest keys in that particular game.

Remarkably, Randy Vanderhoof has been Raceland’s head coach 18 years longer than Martino has led the Red Devils. In all, Vanderhoof is at the 28-season mark.

Being from the only All “A” school in the district, Vanderhoof is annually saddled with the tough task of beating a team that inevitably has an advantage, numbers-wise.

Still, Raceland rarely goes away quietly.

“This is the hardest district in the region, and we all know it,” said Martino, who guided Russell to three consecutive region tournaments until last season.

Greenup County is the reigning champion. In fact, the Musketeers have won six of the last seven titles, with the only exception being 2012, when Lewis County seized supremacy.

Greenup County fell to Ashland in the region championship game last season.

Eighth-year coach Greg Logan, who owns three region titles, expects his team to take its lumps in the early going, which it has. But he’s hopeful for the long haul.

“We will need to find some pitchers who can step up and fill in that (void from 2013),” Logan said. “Hopefully (we get that) from seniors Jesse Hall and Karson Glancy.”

Logan will also look to seniors Korey Morris, J.B. Brown and Chase Clary to assemble strong seasons. Morris committed zero errors in 48 chances in the outfield last year. Brown is coming off a 22-RBI season. Logan labeled Clary “the best shortstop in the region.” He’s a third-year starter.

Youngsters Tristan Downing, a freshman, and Gage Hughes, an eighth-grader, offer more experience than what their grade classification conveys.

Downing is a third-year varsity starter. The pitcher/utility player was 3-4 on the mound last season — he picked up the victory against Morgan County in the region tournament opening round last season.

Hughes, a second baseman, will lead off.

Greenup County (3-6) split the season-opening series with Lewis County (4-2).

The Lions have a deeper pool of pitchers than many in the region.

Sammy Holder, who recently signed with Kentucky Wesleyan, was 9-3 with a 1.70 earned run average last season. He racked up 97 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. In 2012, the two-time All-Area selection was 8-0.

Jordan Davis fanned 56 batters in 52 innings in 2013. He had a 2.15 ERA.

First-year coach Jack Lykins also likes what he sees from 6-foot-4 right-hander Isaac Weddington.

“Our pitching’s been pretty good,” Lykins said. “Our bats haven’t come around just yet.”

Holder and Davis comprise the top two spots in the batting order. Holder hit .367 with 18 stolen bases last year. He’s already experienced a four-steal game this season.

When not pitching, Holder is a staple at shortstop. Jordan Doyle, Weddington and Daulton Mason are other infielders. Mason, a transfer from Mason County, bopped seven homers last season.

Davis holds down center field, while Wade Adams will be etched onto the lineup card as the left fielder most days.

“I’m really impressed with the way Wade’s been playing,” Lykins said.

Adams, Holder, Mason and Jordan McCann are the Lions’ seniors.

Russell also has four seniors — Alex Jones, Michael Daniels, Duane Naliborksi and Elijah Hamilton.

Martino is counting on Jones to win “9 or 10 games,” he said. The left-hander was 4-3 with a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings last year.

“He’s going to be the main guy,” Martino said. “We expect to win when he pitches.”

Heath Hensley, nicknamed “Mega Mitt,” returns as the junior first baseman after being voted the team’s most valuable player in ’13. Hensley is hitting right at .500 from the leadoff spot for the Red Devils (3-4) through seven games.

Juniors Bobby May and Garion Robinson, the Devils’ shortstop and left fielder, respectively, combined for 35 RBIs last season.

Jacob McKee, a sophomore, supplies a “big stick” in the middle of the lineup, said Martino.

Freshman Nick Conley, who is “as fast as blue blazes,” according to Martino, will bat in the two-hole in between Hensley and McKee most nights.

Naliborski, Justin Fraley, May and McKee are among the arms Martino plans to turn to after Jones.

Vanderhoof said he hopes to “compete in the tough 16th Region All “A” (Classic) and the 63rd District.”

Coming off a 16-17 year in 2013, the Rams are off to a 4-5 start this season.

Sophomore Tyler Morris tallied 15 strikeouts in a 6-1 victory over Dayton on Tuesday.

Vanderhoof said the Rams will also rely on junior outfielder Kyle Moore to be a significant factor.

Cody Gollihue, Alec Risner, Brady Harris and Tristan Brown are all seniors for Raceland.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0729kypgaJr0034.jpg Golfers go out with an encore

    Evan Goble said he “wasn’t completely ready for a playoff” on Monday.
    That didn’t stop him from holing two pressure-packed playoff putts to win the 13-14-year-old division of the final event of the summer on the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • EKC Grid-O-Rama set for Aug. 15-16

    The annual Eastern Kentucky Conference football scrimmage contests are set for Aug. 15-16 at Fleming County and Raceland.

    July 29, 2014

  • Holliday embraces high expectations

    As Marshall football prepares to return to the gridiron to begin fall practice Aug. 4, this season the program finds itself labeled something that it has not been in many years: a favorite.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mobley, Jude key for EKU

    Eastern Kentucky coach Dean Hood has revamped the Colonels’ defense in hopes of containing OVC opponents’ spread offenses.

    July 29, 2014

  • ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching

    The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
SEC Zone