Mustangs Set to Open Season
North Moore's Brandon Reynolds is pitching a new style of play to his young Mustang baseball team.
The 1999 graduate of East Montgomery High School and first-year head coach is stressing versatility, defense and fundamentals to a team of talented, but somewhat unproven players entering the 2009 season.
"We have a lot of youth," Reynolds said. "This season we are going to gain a lot of experience."
Gone from last year's team that advanced to the second round of the 1/A playoffs, are three left-handed pitchers, including ace Steven Davis. Davis, now pitching for UNC-Wilmington, was a three-time all-conference selection and league MVP in 2007.
"We are rebuilding our pitching staff," first-year head coach Brandon Reynolds says. ""We don't have a guy who can blow the ball by you or a guy who, right now, can go seven innings consistently, so it will be a pitching staff by committee," Reynolds said. If we can find some pitchers capable of pitching two or three effective innings in a committee role, we will be successful."
Reynolds said he will stress to his pitchers to throw strikes and play to the strength of his team -- its defense.
"If we throw strikes and only give the other team three outs an inning we can be successful," Reynolds said.
Reynolds trusts that the players on his roster all have the ability to field the baseball and play solid defense -- no matter what position they play.
"We can still compete because we have some athletic guys who can get the job done defensively." "With a pitching staff by committee, we will have a lot of changing around and you can get handcuffed if you don't have guys who can move around and play different positions. I've got 13 guys who can field the ball and I feel like most all our guys can play multiple positions effectively."
Two of the team's better defensive players will likely be a pair of sophomores -- Cody Johnson and Tyler Wallace. Johnson at shortstop, and Wallace at third base, will give the Mustangs a strong left side of the infield. Johnson can also play third base and second base.
Offensively, the Mustangs will rely on small ball -- putting the ball in play, bunting, moving runners over, being aggressive on the base paths and capitalizing on opportunities.
"We don't have the fire power to walk twice and hit a three-run homer," Reynolds said. "We want to put the ball in play, concentrate on moving runners over and making productive outs."
The team features four seniors -- Dustin Martin, Harold Chandler, Lyle Barnett and Colton Maness.
"All of these guys have the ability to impact this team in a positive way," Reynolds said.
Juniors Levi Morris, Shad Painter, Evan Roberts and Jon Spivey, along with sophomores Jonathan Henley, Xavier Scotten and freshman Rider Maness round out the team.
Reynolds said Roberts, a transfer from Union Pines, could be a "wild card" for the team.
Henley, a lefty, will likely see time on the mound and at several positions in the field, Reynolds said.
Last year the Mustangs rallied from a middle-of-the-pack finish in the conference regular season to advance to the conference title game for the second straight year. The Mustangs won the conference title game in 2007 and lost last year.
"Every one of these kids has been on the varsity level prematurely (as freshmen and sophomores) but they have caught up, They know what it's like to play at this level. They are not going to be blown away or intimidated and we won't be shell-shocked," Reynolds said.
Assisting Reynolds are Jim Morris and Tony Martin.
Schedule: March 6 - at Asheboro; 11-East Montgomery; 13- at South Davidson; 17-Chatham Central; 20-at East Montgomery; 24-West Montgomery; 27-at Jordan Matthews; 28-Fairmont; 31-Thomasville; April 3 - Asheboro; 7-South Davidson; 10-Tazewell, Va.; 11-Eastern Randolph; 15-Southwest Randolph at McCrary Park, Asheboro; 17-Randleman at McCrary Park, Asheboro; 21-at West Montgomery; 24-Jordan Matthews; 27-at Chatham Central; 28-Thomasville; May 4- conference tournament.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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