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Berkeley High School
Moncks Corner

Stags relying on deep pitching staff in 2019

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Moncks Corner – While it may not have the big-time prospect or marquee name, the 2019 Berkeley High pitching staff figures to be one of the best in Class AAAAA due to its depth.

Berkeley head coach Landy Cox has at least eight pitchers at his disposal this season. Figuring out a way to get them all innings has been a challenge early but that’s a nice problem to have, the coach says.

 “We have some quality guys, guys that throw strikes and will compete out there on the mound,” Cox said. “Most of them are returning guys so they pitched varsity innings last year. When we throw strikes, we are pretty darn good. We just have to find their roles and get them work when we can. We have a lot of options. Pitching is the strength of this team.”

While Cox hesitates to say any one of the pitchers is the “ace” of the staff, he says junior right-hander Jeffrey Ziegler is as close to the number one guy as anyone else. Ziegler is a proven commodity and a battler on the bump. He throws three pitches effectively for strikes and specializes in off speed.

“He’s a good one for sure,” Cox said. “He doesn’t light up the radar gun but he can really pitch.”

Senior Hunter Hicks has started several games, as has sophomore Chevy Wrenn, who has two early wins. Senior Cole Mitchum works in relief and is an Erskine signee. Seniors Blake Southard and Daniel Bilton will see innings, as will junior Jordan Kullnat. Freshman prospect Rhett Legette has become the closer.

Senior Hayden Dawson is the team’s catcher and leadoff hitter this spring. Mitchum is working at first base while Ziegler handles third base Sophomore Jesse Free is a player that fits anywhere on the field and is hitting in the two hole.

Junior Michael Singletary is a third-year starter at second base while freshman Hayden Newbold is a returning starter at short.

Senior Alec Wyndham is starting in leftfield and junior Eric Green is a returning starter in center. Kullnat and Legette have been splitting time in right field.

While the pitching and defense is solid, Cox hopes to see his team hit better collectively as the season progresses.

“We’re not very consistent yet so the offense is a bit of a concern early,” Cox said. “We have to be able to score a few runs. We have guys who are capable hitters but we haven’t found a consistent group just yet. That has to happen for us to have a chance.”

The Stags have been good early on this spring, winning nine of their first 11 games, including a 3-1 start in region 7-AAAAA play. The region is as balanced and competitive as ever with four of the six teams winning three of their first four league games.

Cox stresses to his team daily to remain focused only on the next game on the schedule.

“We try not to think about tomorrow, just focus on today,” he said. “You can’t afford to get caught looking ahead in this region. You can’t get all mental about it. We’re not good enough to look ahead and the teams we have to play are good, really good. We just try to work hard and prepare for every game like it’s the last game. We get by that game, we move to the next one.

“I like this team. They will battle and fight until the last out. They work hard in practice and they want to win. As long as we keep improving and just take one day at a time, I think we can be in the hunt.”

 

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