DHS baseball tasked with answering questions as season opens

The Demopolis High School baseball team is set to open its season Friday night as part of its invitational tournament. When the Tigers take the field, it will do so with a roster that looks a good bit different than the one that filled lineup cards in 2014.

Demopolis will see incumbent Jacob Rodrigues back at first base with Tripp Perry and Ryan Morrison in the mix as well.

R.J. Cox, who took over catching duties late last season, will be behind the plate along with Choctaw County transfer Jay Craig.

Choctaw transfer Jamarcus Ezell will see time at second base along with Clay White and Jordan Grace.

Luke Yelverton, who saw partial time at third base a season ago, returns to the hot corner along with Mark Trest and Wil Stephens.

Ryan Schroeder returns at shortstop where he will also help mentor Hunter Colyar.

The Tiger outfield mix will consist of returners Seth Aiken, Perry and Stephens along with Craig, Adam Sellers, Wesley Holemon and Jonathan Lewis.

On the mound, the Tigers will rely heavily on the starting trio of Perry, Yelverton and Sellers while Rodrigues, Craig, Cox, Colyar and Morrison will also be called upon to provide their share of productive innings.

“If we pitch and play defense and hit when we need to hit, we’ve got a chance,” Demopolis coach James Moody said of his team. “There’s a lot of unknowns. We lost our top three hitters from last year, which is scary. Losing those guys when we only hit .270 last year as a team is scary.”

Absent Tyler Oates, John Antony Morrison and Michael Brooker, the Tigers will look for offense from a fresh lineup. That lineup, in the estimation of hitting coach Kevin May, has the potential to be productive.

“Coach May has been talking and he said he likes where we are right now and where we’re headed to,” Moody said.

The Tigers will also be leaning heavily upon a roster that includes a large number of underclassman regulars. That youth, Moody explained, will need to be galvanized for Demopolis to find success.

“They’re going to have to grow up pretty quick. They will. They’ve got to play pitch to pitch, whether it’s a pitcher, a hitter, an infielder. And they’ve got to have short memories and hopefully have some success early and grow up a little bit,” Moody said. “That’ll begin to carry over. You cannot put a price tag on confidence. If we can have some early, maybe we can grow up a little quicker than we’re projected to.”

The Tigers will tangle with a typical tough schedule that includes the likes of Jackson, Clarke County, Sipsey Valley and Thomasville.

Perhaps the toughest games for Demopolis will come in a pair of tournaments in Montgomery and Alex City.

“I think the biggest difference is going to be the FCA tournament in Montgomery. We play three quality people there. We play Wetumpka, Alabama Christian, who is supposed to be really good this year, and we play Thorsby,” Moody said. “At the end of the season we go to the Lake Martin Classic and we play Benjamin Russell, which we know what they have, Dadeville, who is quality every year, Russell County and I think we play Central of Clay. Those are going to be playoff caliber teams back to back to back.”

The Tigers are set to open Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Mobile Christian. Demopolis has Leroy slated for a 10 a.m. start Saturday and Sipsey Valley for a 5:30 p.m. first pitch Saturday.

Hale County, Clarke County, Thomasville and Chilton County are also set to participate in the two-day tournament with games taking place at both DHS and the Sports-Plex. The tournament begins at 4 p.m. Friday.