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Laurence Manning High School
Manning

Laurence Manning Baseball Expected To Be Solid Team Once Again In 2020 Season

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Manning—As Barry Hatfield (391-121) enters his 7th season as the head baseball coach at Laurence Manning Academy he is mindful that the 19-6 team of last season graduated four notable seniors who had all made considerable contributions to the success of the program that won back-to-back SCISA Class AAA baseball state titles in 2015 and 2016.

Andrew Boyd, the ace of the LMA staff a year ago, has already recorded a pitching win at Radford College in Virginia. Three other departed seniors like Brewer Brunson, Jake Jordan, and catcher Seth Stamps and they will all be missed as well. In a tradition rich baseball program like Laurence Manning you rarely rebuild you simply RELOAD.

“First of all, we come into every new season mindful of the seniors we need to replace and those four seniors we are talking about from last year were really dedicated and made solid contributions to our success,” said Coach Hatfield. “Knowing that Boyd has already won a game pitching for Radford early in his freshman season is really special to hear about. We know we must find solid replacements for all four of our seniors who graduated, and we feel like we have a solid group of newcomer starters to mix in with a returning group of veterans.

“Our main goal every season is to compete well and win the region,” said Coach Hatfield. “Our second expectation is to win a state championship because expectations are always high in our baseball program and they were winning state titles before I got here. You need to stay healthy, develop a solid pitching rotation, hit and play great defense, and have a little luck along the way, but we hope to be that final team left standing when the season is over.”

The Swampcats are 1-0 so far this season with a several rained out games they will make up later. They defeated Calhoun Academy 6-5 on February 27 to get the season started. In that game several pitchers shared the mound and they were on a strict pitch county early in the season. Senior J.T. Stanley (6-1, 180, R-R) allowed only two hits with no earned runs over the three innings he worked and junior Buddy Gales (6-3, 230-R-R) performed well during his brief pitching stint. Sophomore righty Cam Branham (5-7,190) was also used as a pitcher in the win over Calhoun Academy.

The Swampcats will play again on Friday (March 6) at Pinewood Prep and then the two game series switches to LMA on Saturday. On the following Tuesday LMA is at home against rival Wilson Hall, then host First Baptist on Friday. Then on Monday, March 16 the Swampcats travel across town for a game with Manning High School.

LMA’s lead-off batter is veteran senior Chase Lee (6-2, 165) who is getting out a little late due his participation on the varsity basketball team. Lee, a speedy right fielder, has been a solid player in the program for several seasons. Senior Burgess Jordan (5-7, 140) will man second base and bat second in the line-up and he is noted for having great speed. In the third hole is senior left fielder Aaron Carlton (5-9,185) who set a new school hitting record in the playoffs last year when he batted just over ,600. Coach Hatfield said Carlton is such great hitter that he should land a baseball offer somewhere at the next level.

Batting clean-up is junior first baseman Britton Morris (5-10, 215) who batted in the low .400 range last year. He made all-region last season and he is expected to one of the better hitters on the team this year. Batting in the 5th spot will be designated hitter J.T. Stanley who is a Co-Number One pitcher.

Batting in the 6th spot is speedy center fielder Gabe Harris who possesses both a good arm and great speed, two ingredients needed to play where he plays.

Talented sophomore Mickey Jordan will start at third base and bat in the 7th slot. “Mickey loves to compete, and he is passionate about the game of baseball,” said Coach Hatfield. “Sometimes we have to re-focus him because his emotions for the game can take over, but he has a solid future in this game for sure.”

Rounding out 8-9 in the batting order is sophomore catcher Austin Geddings (5-9, 160) who has great Pop time to second and bats in the 8th hole. The number 9 batter is freshman short stop Jackson Brown (5-5, 125).

“I can’t ever remember starting a freshman at shortstop before,” said Coach Hatfield. “Jackson is the best freshman shortstop that I’ve ever coached for his age. He plays excellent defense and he is developing as a hitter also.”

The top two pitchers in the rotation are described as 1-A and 1-B by Coach Hatfield in Stanley and Gales. Sophomore lefty Jackson Campbell will see time at the three-spot along with Branham. Coach Hatfield said potential late inning closer candidates include junior side armer Hunter Zohs and sophomore righty Dalton Brown.

“We have a really strong sophomore group all-around, so we hope they all gain experience this year, contribute and keep developing as the talented group they are,” said Coach Hatfield. “We feel really good about our top two pitchers. Buddy can be a real imposing figure on the mound looking down at you when he is 6-3 and over 235 pounds. We are looking forward to the season. We had three rain-out games already and that is always frustrating to everyone.”

Coach Hatfield should reach the milestone of 400 career wins in just a few weeks. “I have not thought much about it at all but when you do win 400 it really means you have been around so long and that you are getting really old,” he laughed.

Coach Hatfield is assisted by LMA athletic director Russ Jordan, Mark Campbell, Al Nelson, Matt Mays and Todd Larrimer.

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