Despite their falling below .500 (1-2) this early in the season, Post 28 head coach Jodi Sweetman is pleased with how his team has come together thus far. They have experienced arms, plus a number of players who can play multiple positions, play good solid defense and — most importantly — have the leadership to compete day-in and day-out.
Sweetman made mention that Post 28 doesn’t have the same offensive power it might have had a year ago, but he said they will nonetheless be ready and are prepared to compete on every single pitch.
Last year, Post 28 had five starters with a batting average higher than .300 and they return three of those players (third baseman Jay Marsh, pitcher/1B Colin Warner and catcher D.J. Clark). It will give them experienced bats in the middle of the lineup on a relatively inexperienced legion team.
Sweetman mentioned that, if his team is to be successful offensively this season, the top of the lineup would have to make the pitchers pitch. In other words, Sweetman wants the rest of his lineup to see what the pitchers are throwing early in counts instead of swinging at the first two pitches.
“I need good batters that hit a lot of balls and look at a lot of pitches,” Sweetman said. “I want them to tell guys what the pitcher is throwing and what it looks like.”
Sussex Central’s Martez Hagans and C.J. Bell are two players who are very quick out of the batter’s box and get on base more often than not, which makes the leadoff position ideal for them.
Indian River shortstop Josh Dean was second on the team in batting average last spring (.403) and tied catcher Bryan Lynch for the team-best .576 on-base percentage — making him an ideal No. 2 batter.
Dean’s Post 28 batting average for the 2005 season was only .245.
Clark and Marsh give Sweetman a potent No. 3 and cleanup batter, which will be important since they lost their two top homerun hitters. Justin Collins and Justin VanVorst combined for nine of the team’s 15 homeruns.
“D.J. drives in a lot of runs and makes good contact, which is good for hit-and-runs and Marsh has good power,” Sweetman said. “He (Marsh) hasn’t played a lot of ball in the last couple months but he’ll come around and do a good job for us.”
Clark led Post 28 RBI’s (22), was second in batting average (.368), was second to VanVorst in extra-base hits (with 13:10) and most recently launched a game-winning grand slam against Sussex West. Marsh drew a team-high 28 walks, which led to his team-high OBP (.516) while supporting a .306 batting average.
Batting fifth to protect Marsh, Sweetman has Colin Warner. He held down the fifth batting position for Indian River this past season with a lot of success and Sweetman isn’t trying to buck the odds.
“Of all the guys, Colin is the most comfortable batting there (fifth),” Sweetman said. “We need someone with good control to protect the four hole. Colin has the skills to do that.”
He batted .362 for Post 28 last season and improved that nearly 100 points during Indian River’s baseball season, to a team-leading .438.
Sweetman mentioned that the rest of the lineup would fill itself out depending on player performance and availability.
“From there we’ll mix them around and play whoever is playing better,” he confirmed.