“Our keys are going to be defense and pitching this year,” ELCA coach Doug Campbell said. “If that is consistent then we will be in just about every game.”
Expected to lead from the mound is senior Dalton Etheridge, who will play football and baseball next year at Jacksonville State, sophomore Cole Ganapoulos, junior Hunter Sowell, sophomore Johnny Cook and seniors Bryce Rush, Shawn Bartlett and Matthew Hammers.
“We’re really blessed in pitching,” Campbell said. “That is why we are real happy with what we have on the mound.”
Even though the Chargers lost run producers Jacob Heyward and D.J. Curl, there are still some very dangerous bats held by juniors Dazmon Cameron and Jaylen Smith, and seniors Andrew Gomez and Jordan Howard.
“I will see a lot more fastballs than I would at any other position because they want to get me out instead of having runners on base with Dazmon coming to the plate,” said Smith, who hits first and second in the lineup. “He is a great hitter. He can drive in a lot of runs and do a lot for us.”
“If our defense holds up, we expect to be very competitive,” Campbell said. “The biggest challenge for us this year is replacing hitters and a lot of offense that we lost. So far, we’ve done a pretty good job. We had a slow start but we are starting to come around with the bat.”
Currently, ELCA is 8-1 and scheduled to host Mount Vernon Presbyterian on Friday and Our Lady of Mercy on Tuesday.
“Last year, we were expected to win it all but this year will be challenging,” Smith said.