Head baseball coach Kenny Toney has a streak going that Glen Rose baseball fans would like to see continue when the 2010 season comes to an end.
Toney has made the postseason every year since joining GRHS in 2004.
Glen Rose claimed an outright district championship last year, earning them a first-round playoff bye, and knocking off Bridgeport to claim the Area Championship making this the most successful season since the Tigers’ trip to the Regional Semifinals in Toney’s inaugural season.
The only thing keeping Toney’s Tigers from being certain repeat champions in District 7-3A is the one thing he lost - an ace pitcher.
“We lost a big asset (in Derek Thompson),” said Toney. “But we’ve got Immanuel (Morales), Colt (Plaster) and RJ (Nowak) and I’m looking to those three guys to carry the bulk of our pitching duties. We’ve talked about it and I think they’ll be able to handle it.
“We’ve got what it takes. Even though Derek graduated, we’ve got the pitching to lead us to a district championship,“ said Toney. “They may not be the caliber that Derek was right now, but they’re good. If they work hard and stay focused they can reach that level.”
Other than on the mound, there are two key positions with huge voids as the Tigers take the field to begin the season - third base and catcher.
With a major hole to fill at the hot corner and a minor void in the outfield, Ty Taylor’s versatility will be tested before district action gets started. Taylor spent all season last year behind the plate.
The void at catcher depends on Toney’s decision to move Taylor. If a switch is made, Collin Lane and Curry Mapes will share time at catcher.
“Our catching situation is up in the air,” said Toney. “We’re going to look at Ty (Taylor) at third base and in the outfield. If we move him, it’ll be Collin Lane behind the plate. They’ve both got good bats so whichever one is behind the plate will do a great job for us.”
Third base was left vacant by Jacob Goebel’s graduation and will be evaluated with either Taylor, Mapes or Baker Ingram.
The outfield is set with combination of Taylor, Nowak, Kevin Brooks, Dylan Rodriguez and Shelby Junge.
Junge and Rodriguez are currently slated to start in left and center with a competition in right field to be filled by Nowak or Taylor.
“Shelby and Dylan got a lot of playing time last year,” said Toney. “They’ve done a great job in the outfield. Shelby was on fire from the plate over the first part of last season. If he can give us that type of production from the plate this year, he’ll be a major asset. They both give us speed and if we can get their bats going, they’ll be real good assets for us.”
The offense will be very similar to years past.
Toney said the philosophy is to drive the ball up the middle, bunt the ball around and steal bases.
Gavin Fitzpatrick and Stetson Murdock are others on Toney’s varsity bench. Other players that might make an appearance for the Tigers later in the season are Jarod Morgan, Hayden Bauch and Dayton Armstrong.
“When it comes to some of those other guys,” said Toney, “I’m going to sit down with them and together we’ll decide if they would rather risk not playing very much on the varsity or play on the JV.”
District 7-3A’s final playoff will be a 3-team race between Gatesville, China Spring and Hillsboro with West and Glen Rose being the preseason favorite to claim the top two spots. Whitney remains the one team on the outside looking in.
West went to the Regional Semifinals last season with a team consisting of several underclassmen and will return its entire pitching staff.
“Usually when you’re the reigning district champs, you’re favored,” said Toney. “That’s different this year because West has a lot of players returning and are the favorite. They’re good and you can’t take that away from them. I hope our guys use that as bulletin board material because all of the teams in our district are beatable.
“But, if Colt and Immanuel get on a roll then we should be able to replace West as the favorite,” said Toney. “And if our offense gets going, then we will replace West.”