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2009 Super Six Baseball

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SUPER SIX Baseball

TEAM CAPSULES

Team Capsules

Region 8-AAAAA

Berkmar

· Head Coach: Justin Bishop

· 2008 record: 6-20

· Returning Starters: C/1B/RHP Jarrett Rivera, Sr.; 2B/SS Mark Miller, Sr.; OF/RHP Cody Jett, Sr.; 3B/RHP Jimmy Drake, Jr.; 1B/DH/RHP Shayne Schilling, Sr.; 2B/SS/RHP Joseph Nova, Jr.

· Outlook: The Patriots should be able to score some runs behind a batting order that includes a solid nucleus of seniors Rivera (.393, 3 HR, 24 RBIs last season), Jett (.338 and Miller (.333). And the pitching staff has a strong building block in junior right-hander Drake (2-5, 33 K in 34 1/3 IP). The biggest issue that must be addressed if Berkmar is to make a run at the postseason is defense. The Patriots gave up too many unearned runs last year, and must cut down on errors, especially with fewer experienced pitchers this season.

Brookwood

· Head Coach: Rick Howard

· 2008 record: 34-3, Region 8-AAAAA champions, Class AAAAA state champions

· Returning Starters: C Ronnie Freeman, Sr.; LHP Matt Adams, Sr.; RHP Michael Brown, Sr.

· Outlook: Replacing eight position players and the top two starting pitchers might seem an overwhelming assignment for the defending state champions. However, when all three of those three returners were All-County selections last season - Adams (7-0, 1.31, 58 K, 43 IP) on the first team, Freeman (.459, 6 HR, 34 RBIs) and Brown (1-0, 10 saves, 0.82, 21 K, 17 IP) on the second team - it makes for a strong core to build around. And with two other players who got valuable experience last season in SS Wade Brogdon and LF Chris Paul, plus some promising newcomers, the Broncos should be in the mix to battle South Gwinnett and Parkview for the Region 8-AAAAA crown again.

Central Gwinnett

· Head Coach: Chris Hays

· 2008 record: 13-12

· Returning Starters: C Matt Ricciardi, Sr.; RHP Josh Peterson, Sr.; RHP Zach Thompson, Sr.; IF/RHP Philip Bates, Jr.

· Outlook: Programs should be a hot commodity at Central games this year with only two returning starters and several new faces. The Black Knights, however, will have something to prove after finishing just short of a state playoff berth last season, and do have some proven pieces like Bates (.327, 13 RBIs), Ricciardi (12 RBIs) and Peterson (2-1).

Dacula

· Head Coach: John Poitevint

· 2008 record: 11-15

· Returning Starters: SS Tyler Jarvis, So., OF Chris Owens, Sr.; OF Jeremy Kien, Sr.; OF Marshall Steed, Sr.; C Brad Mills, Sr.; C Tripp Calhoun, So.; 1B Billy Judd, Sr.; 3B Oliver Pratt, Jr.; RHP Zach Breaux, Sr.; RHP Erik Schrum, Jr.; RHP Austin Meyer, Jr.

· Outlook: The Falcons make their return to Region 8-AAAAA with a strong set of arms, including three top pitchers of a solid staff last year in the form of right-handers Breaux, Schrum and Meyer. The bats, however, will have to be more productive if Dacula is to challenge for a state playoff spot as Kien is the only returning starter to hit over .300 last season.

Grayson

· Head Coach: Seth Rhine

· 2008 record: 12-16, first round, Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: SS Scott King, Sr.; 3B/OF Josh Jones, Sr.; C Dereck Lark, Sr.; RHP Bryan Benzor, Sr.

· Outlook: While the Rams lost some big bats from last year to graduation, they do return a solid nucleus, especially at the plate, where King (.311, 14 RBIs) and Lark (.340, 11 RBIs) were among the county leaders last season. Pitching depth will have to develop behind senior right-hander Benzor (3.82 ERA, 30 K, 33 IP). Sill, Grayson should be in the mix for what figures to be a wide-open race for a state playoff spot if it can survive a brutal pre-region schedule that includes two defending state champions (Wesleyan and Loganville), a state runner-up (Walton), two semifinalists (Providence and North Cobb) and five more playoff teams (Norcross, North Gwinnett, Kennesaw Mountain, Lakeside-DeKalb and Redan), plus perennial power Milton.

Meadowcreek

· Head Coach: Chris Reeves

· 2008 record: 5-15

· Returning Starters: C Ethan Parris, RHP Cameron Shafer, LF Carlos Ramirez, CF Juan Lopez, RF Juan Rubio, 2B Oscar Ballestero, 3B Luis Fernandez

· Outlook: Though their win total was only five last year, it continued the Mustangs' steady climb upward. The chances are good for another step up against a non-region schedule this year with seven returning starters.

Parkview

· Head Coach: Chan Brown

· 2008 record: 20-8, first round, Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: RF/RHP Kenny Bellavance, Sr.; LF Brandon Jacobs, Sr.; 3B Matt Foster, Sr.; 2B Michael Frazier, Sr.; RHP Zack Olson, Sr.; SS Kenny Miller, Jr.

· Outlook: As usual, hitting shouldn't be a problem for the Panthers, with the return of sluggers like Super Six outfielder Jacobs, Foster and Bellavance, who combined for 15 homers and 71 RBIs last season. The pitching rotation was harder hit by graduation, but will welcome back Olson, who was solid (6-2, 2.29 ERA, 35 K) in 33 2/3 innings last spring. Exactly how many newcomers can step up behind him on the mound will determine just how well the Panthers can contend with the likes of Brookwood and South Gwinnett for the region title.

Shiloh

· Head Coach: Matt Champitto

· 2008 record: 6-19

· Returning Starters: OF Kenny Lewis, Sr.; 3B Trent Ivie, Sr.; SS/2B David Yarbrough, Sr.; RHP Matt Vollenweider

· Outlook: The most important thing the Generals can do to improve this season is to do a better job winning close games. Nine of their losses came by two runs or less, including four during region play that may have kept them from a state playoff bid and three during their season-opening, five-game losing streak. The latter is particularly important to avoid this season in order to build the confidence of a team that is replacing six staring position players. Therefore, the Generals must lean on seniors like Lewis, Ivie, Yarbrough and Vollenweider for leadership.

South Gwinnett

· Head Coach: Steve Teschner

· 2008 record: 13-15, first round, Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: RHP/1B Nick Blount, Sr.; LHP Sean Handlan, Sr.; IF/C Kyle Maloney, Sr.; LF Michael Moeller, Sr.; C Brett Teschner, Sr.; SS Kenny Sanderson, Sr.; 3B/RHP Kevin Caldwell, Sr.; 2B Corey Benson, Sr.; OF Aaron Jividen, Sr.; RHP/1B Adam Finkenhoefer, Sr.; OF Spencer Varney, Sr.

· Outlook: With 16 seniors - including eight returning starters - back from last year's team that nearly upset Kell in the first round of the playoffs, the Comets could be poised for a big season, including challenging for the region crown and perhaps a big postseason run. Handlan and Blount give South a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, while Blount, Brett Teschner, Sanderson and Moeller combined to drive in 65 runs a year ago.

Region 7-AAAAA

Collins Hill

· Head Coach: Paul Pierce

· 2008 record: 12-14

· Returning Starters: CF Michael Adams, Jr.; RHP/B Grant Earls, Jr.; 2B Morgan Ownbey, So.; 3B Garitt Church, Jr.; RF/LHP James Buckelew, Jr.; RHP/SS Alex Sokolowski, Sr.; RHP/OF Reed Buck, Sr.

· Outlook: The Eagles return a solid young group to build around. Most of them are underclassmen, though seniors Adams (.397, 3 HR, 13 RBIs) seems to be at the heart of the offense, along with juniors McGowan (.318, 16 RBIS), Earls (.368, 18 RBIs) and Church (2 HR, 12 RBIs). Buckelew (4-4, 2.09, 39 K, 47 IP) heads up the pitching staff, while Buck and Sokolowsky (22 K, 19 2/3 IP) are also experienced arms. If things jell together the way Pierce hopes, especially on the mound, the Eagles could be a sleeper in the race for a playoff spot.

Duluth

· Head Coach: Bobby Link

· 2008 record: 5-20

· Returning Starters: RHP Jacob Mauldin, Sr.; OF Alex Raffesberger, So.

· Outlook: The Wildcats will once again be young, with several first-year varsity players. One of the exceptions is Mauldin (4-3, 2.98 ERA last season), who has been a steadying force with a combined eight wins the last two seasons.

Mill Creek

· Head Coach: Doug Jones

· 2008 record: 21-10, Region 7-AAAAA champions, second round, Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: C Jacob German, Sr.; RHP Matthew Grimes, Jr.; CF Johnny Knight, Sr.; LHP Brian Holmes, Sr.; SS Greg Brody, Jr.

· Outlook: Though their starting lineup was hit hard by graduation, it wasn't totally gutted and the Hawks remain a strong contender for the region title. They will be particularly strong up the middle with German returning as one of the best defensive catchers in the county, plus Brody at short and Knight up the middle. Knight, in particular, hopes to carry over a strong finish from last year in which he blasted eight of his 11 home runs (tied for the most among any returning county player) in the final two weeks. The pitching will be strong at the top of the rotation with Grimes returning and Holmes moving up after a strong effort out of the bullpen last year. Developing depth both at the plate and on the mound will be the key.

Norcross

· Head Coach: Andy Collins

· 2008 record: 21-10, second round, Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: LHP Forrest Garrett, Sr.; 1B/LHP Tyler Roach, Sr.; LF Peter Poole, Sr.; CF Danal Slay, Sr.; SS/RHP Nathan Mitzel, Sr.; 3B/RHP Beau Buckler, Sr.

· Outlook: All signs point towards another postseason run for the Blue Devils despite losing two of their three starting pitchers from last year. LSU-bound Garrett (7-3, 2.79, 69 K, 65 2/3 IP) returns as one of the county's top hurlers, while fellow senior lefty Roach (3-0. 1.99, 32 K, 31 2/3 IP) and right-hander Mitzel (2.15 ERA) each were solid out of the bullpen and in spot starting duties and appear ready to step in. Poole (.402, 6 HR, 19 RBIs) leads an offense that may not have posted a high average in Norcross' pitcher-friendly park, but proved quite productive, with Poole, Roach, Slay, Mitzel and Buckler combining to drive in 78 runs.

North Gwinnett

· Head Coach: Frank Vashaw

· 2008 record: 17-11, first round of Class AAAAA state playoffs

· Returning Starters: SS/3B Chris Hawkins, Jr.; 1B/LF Taylor Forrester, Sr.; C Josh Wright, Sr.; RHP Wyatt Brown, Sr.; 2B/SS J.R. Van Wie, Sr.; 1B/LHP Nick Jones, Jr.; RHP/OF/1B Chad White, Jr.

· Outlook: Despite losing several key seniors from last seasons playoff team, the Bulldogs return a solid nucleus and should be a strong contender in the region again. The batting order features a middle packed with four returning starters - Forrester, Hawkins, Jones and Wright - who each hit at least .300 and drove in double-digit runs last season. Second-team All-County right-hander Brown (6-3, 2.32, 47 K, 54 1/3 IP) returns as the ace of the pitching staff, while Jones and White each got valuable experience last season, and will likely be called upon to log more innings this year .

School: Peachtree Ridge

· Head Coach: Ryan Hanik

· 2008 record: 10-16

· Returning Starters: 3B/RHP Nate Chong, Sr.; OF Chris Brunatti, Sr.; OF Mitchell Williford, Sr.; IF Kevin Bowman, Sr.; 1B/LHP Jared Walsh, So.

· Outlook: The Lions enter 2009 with a new coach in Hanik and several new faces, especially in a young pitching staff that includes returning sophomore starter Walsh, plus newcomers Aidan McLaughlin and Justin Goetz. Offensively, the Lions should have some pop with experienced bats in the form of Chong, Brunatti, Williford and Bowman.

6-AA

Buford

· Head Coach: Tony Wolfe

· 2008 record: 14-11

· Returning Starters: CF/RHP Josh Rudnik, Sr.; 3B Michael May, Sr.; RF Cody Getz, Sr.; C Landon Anderson, Sr.; LF Cameron Crawford, Jr.; LHP Hunter Cash, Sr.; LHP Jeb Dills, Jr.

· Outlook: While perennial powers Wesleyan and Holy Innocents' may be gone, it still won't be easy for the Wolves to break through into a playoff spot with GAC and defending state runner-up Lovett returning, plus the addition of AAA powers Blessed Trinity and Westminster. Still, an experienced nucleus - including three-year starters Rudnik (.391, 2 HR, 18 RBIs), Getz (.375, 10 RBIs) and Anderson (.342, 3 HR, 24 RBIs). The pitching also looks solid with Rudnik (2-2, 3.55, 26 K, 21 2/3 IP) and lefties Cash (4-1, 3.62, 30 K, 29 IP) and Dills (3.78, 28 K, 29 1/3 IP) making up a solid trio starters.

GAC

· Head Coach: Cliff Shelton

· 2008 record: 18-8, first round, Class A state playoffs

· Returning Starters: OF/LHP Justin Ernest, Sr.; C Ian Graham, Sr.; IF Stephen Pepper, Sr.; RHP Riley Rue, Jr.; IF/RHP Patrick Savage, Sr.; OF/RHP Drew Steckenrider, Sr.

· Outlook: Getting to the postseason hasn't been a problem for the Spartans in recent years. Making a deep playoff run has been as GAC has been eliminated in the first round three of the last four seasons and only made it to the second round in the other year. So, the sights for Shelton's team have been raised higher this year, and the Spartans appear to have the piece to live up to those expectations with the return of six starters, including Aflac All-American and Tennessee signee Steckenrider (.387, 7 HR, 23 RBIs, 7-0, 1.17 ERA, 46 K, 36 IP), Auburn-signee Savage (.413, 8 HR, 36 RBIs) and fellow senior Pepper (.386, 2 HR, 25 RBIs, 4-3, 27 K, 34 1/3 IP).

Region 7-A

Wesleyan

· Head Coach: Mike Shaheen

· 2008 record: 30-4-1, Region 6AA champions, Class AA state champions

· Returning Starters: SS Brent Pugh, Sr.; RHP/3B Drew Fithian, Sr/' OF Lee Ellis, Sr.; 2B/OF J.J. Russell, Sr.; OF Bobby Worthington, Sr.; LHP/IB Devin Stanton, Jr.; OF Conor Welton, Jr.; RHP/1B Brooks Colquitt, Jr.; OF/DH Carter Garrison, Jr.

· Outlook: Despite losing eight starters - including four Division I college signees - off last year's state title team, the Wolves should have plenty of talent to reload and challenge Providence on the region and state levels. In addition to returning starters like Welton, Stanton and Pugh, several other players got valuable experience in last year's run and could play vital roles this year. Chief among those players to watch is Colquitt, who returns healthy after missing much of last year with arm trouble and who should combine with Stanton to make quite a force at the top of the pitching rotation. If the Wolves can develop pitching depth behind those two, they could very well make another run deep into May, and perhaps June.

Providence

· Head Coach: Adam Cantrell

· 2008 record: 26-8-1, Region 7-A runner-up, Class A state semifinals

· Returning Starters: 3B Chris Wages, Sr.; RHP Jonathan Leverett, Sr.; LHP Austin Barry, Sr.; RHP Casey Gray, Sr.; 1B Philip Tuttle, Sr.; OF Addison McDowell, Sr.

· Outlook: After one of the most powerful batting orders in the county to a state semifinal appearance last year, the Stars still have some pop left this year with the return of Wages (.459, 11 HR, 54 RBIs), the county's RBI leader from last year and whose 11 homers are tied for the most among Gwinnett's returning players, Tuttle (.367, 3 HR, 15 RBIs) and McDowell (.301, 18 RBIs). However, their biggest strength may be a deep pitching staff that includes Leverett, Barry and Gray, who each posted a sub-3.00 ERA and combined for 14 wins and 121 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings. The Stars should battle Wesleyan and Eagles Landing Christian for the region title and be poised for another postseason run.

Region 8-A

Hebron

· Head Coach: Heath Kennedy

· 2008 record: 14-9

· Returning Starters: RHP Jamie Holt, Jr.; OF Jordy Penrod, Sr.; OF Jessy Myrick, Sr.; 1B Ben Mason, Jr.; SS Danny Lockhart, So., RHP Kevin Burgee, So.

· Outlook: The Lions made a jump of 10 wins from the previous season a year ago, and hope to take the next step into the postseason. While county hitting champion Bobby Cole is gone, six important starters are back, including four players who drove in 15 runs or more, led by sophomore Lockhart (.403, 17 RBIs) and junior Mason (20 RBIs). Holt (6-2, 2.39, 28 K, 41 IP), Burgee (3.38, 34 K, 39 IP) and Mason (2-2, 3.50) also lead a solid pitching staff.