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Bears fielding new team after losing 10 seniors

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By John Shindlebower

 

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The Spencer County High School baseball team will surely not face any obstacle on the field tougher than the one they’ve endured recently with the loss of a teammate.

Junior Joseph Sheeley was killed in a car accident earlier this month and as the team prepared the new season, they had to lay down their bats and gloves and mourn the loss of the popular teammate and classmate. Such a traumatic event can be tough, but it can also bring a team closer together.

Those taking the field this year will have big shoes to fill from last year’s squad, which went 19-8 on the season, the best record since 2013.

Despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s squad, Coach Thad Kingsolver’s team is a mature collection, which includes seven seniors who will finally get their big chance. While last year’s seniors got the bulk of the playing time, Kingsolver said this year’s group still has three years of experience in the program and expects them to step up.

Senior Lucas Tackett probably has the most experience of the returning players and had a big season on the mound and at the plate for the Bears. Brodye Manning, Michael Yates, Jacob Sheeley and Cody Tindle also saw some action last year as juniors, as Zack Tipton and Ethan Glenn, who are juniors this season, were also part of last year’s varsity squad.

Kingsolver, who is beginning his fourth season at the helm of the Bears,  thinks pitching will be a strength of this year’s team.

“We have eight or nine players that will see action on the hill at the varsity level this season,” he said.

The ability to consistently throw strikes and thus, eliminating walks and cheap baserunners can be a huge advantage at the high school level. Forcing the other team to put the ball in play also helps if you have a team with good gloves backing you up in the field. Kingsolver said he has high hopes for his team’s defense. “Team defense has the early appearance to be solid once again,” he said.

On offense, Kingsolver said he likes the potential his team has, but said it’s yet to be seen whether they’ll be effective at filling the bases and knocking in runs.

“Our offense has not proven itself at the varsity level yet. The skill and ability level is present for a good offensive club, but only time will tell.”

Another plus for the program is the number of kids playing baseball. In addition to a full varsity roster, Kingsolver has another 17 JV players who will be gaining experience for the coming seasons.

Fortunately, Kingsolver and his team has had some really fantastic weather to prepare for the upcoming season, so even though this senior-laden team lacks an abundance of varsity experience, they’ve been able to get a lot of field time.

“I can only remember one or two February(s) in the last 15 seasons that have been this warm and dry,” said Kingsolver.

“It has given us a great start to practice. There have been seasons when we only get to practice on the field a handful of times before games start due to the weather. It’s rare for a ball field to be dusty in February, but it’s happened a lot this year. It’s been good.”

The Bears were scheduled to start their season on Monday with a game at North Bullitt, followed by a game on Tuesday at Fairdale, weather permitting. They have road games later in the week at KCD and Trimble County and are scheduled to have their home opener next Tuesday against Louisville Moore.