NATHAN HICKS – The Corsair
Whether it’s the smell of freshly cut grass, grilled hotdogs, or the sound of a homerun crashing off the end of a bat, baseball season is here at Pensacola State.
“We are looking to win this year, but we have fun too. One thing I like about this team is that they give 100 percent without me asking for it,” said Head Baseball Coach Keith Little.
The Pirates look for success from several of their deadly weapons this year.
One of those weapons goes by the name of Blake Brown. Brown plays third base and finished up with 11 homeruns last season. Already this season Brown leads the team with four homeruns.
One other big hitter accompanying Brown is right fielder Josh Doyle. Doyle was unstoppable at the plate last year as he ended the season with a .360 batting average, and 22 stolen bases. Doyle also leads this season with seven stolen bases so far.
“We want to win the conference this year, and to do that we have to back each other up,” Brown said. “We have a dynamic lineup and deep pitching.”
One pitcher standing on the mound this season is right-handed sophomore JJ McLaughlin. McLaughlin ended the 2010 season with an ERA of 7.89 and had a 5-5 record.
McLaughlin has started this season with a startling record of 3-0 and shows no signs of stopping.
Last season the Pirates had a winning record overall of 30-20, but did not make the state tournament. Little, in his first year as head coach, has made several changes.
Along with three-hour practices each day, Little also has his team weight lift four times a week.
Practices consist of batting practice, in-game situations, base running, and conditioning.
The Pirates are not only starting off with a bang on the field but also off the field too. So far this season the Pirates have participated in several fund raisers; including the Mall to Mall Walk for Cancer.
Athletic Director Bill Hamilton said, “The entire team this year is made up of great kids. Everyone is eager to learn and win.”
Midway through the first round of conference play, the Pirates are 17-15 overall and 3-4 in the Panhandle Conference. Northwest Florida, 6-3 in the conference, figures to give them the most trouble, although the Pirates have won one game against them.
The top two teams in the conference advance to the state championship tournament. With 19 games left in the season, anything is possible.