Thursday, February 2, 2017

Palmetto State Baseball 2017 preview: Spartanburg Methodist

Answers provided by SMC coach Tim Wallace. The Pioneers open their season Feb. 11 with a 1 p.m. home doubleheader against East Georgia.

PSB: After what you saw in fall workouts, what are your team's prospects for the 2017 season?
TW: SMC had a good fall. Offensively we look as though we have the potential to score runs. Defensively I think we’ll be OK with the right nine on the field. The pitching staff is deep with lots of arm strength at the top end.

PSB: What are your biggest areas of concern entering the 2017 season?
TW: There is some concern thus far with pitching, even though it is a deep staff, since aches and pains have begun to creep in. No one wants to deal with pitching issues since that puts added pressure on the offense.

PSB: In what areas does your team appear to be improved from the 2016 season?
TW: I think the biggest improvement has been attitude. Last year’s squad, even though winning the Region regular season, had some kids who weren’t much fun to be around. We took steps to make sure that was not the case this year and the guys have been very receptive to the expectations and changes.

PSB: Based on fall workouts, which returnees from 2016 (including redshirts) look best prepared to play a bigger role in 2017?
TW: Position wise we return a healthy Kep Brown, a UNC-Wilmington commit who was off to a good start last year until tearing his labrum. Brent Burgess, 2016 draft pick, returns to the infield and has made some nice adjustments in his swing. Oliver Hill, once recovering from surgery in the fall, could be a big piece of the puzzle since he can be valuable hitting in the 2 hole. Grant Thompson (Hartsville HS)will get the early nod in the leadoff spot based upon his productive Fall.

Pitching wise, Davis Agle, (draft pick and Clemson commit), Ridge Chapman (USC), Gage Hinson (USC) and Lucas Coan all return to anchor the staff after being relied upon heavily in 2016. Hunter Lomas (USC) and Kaleb Bowman (App State) head up the relief corps.

PSB: Based on fall workouts, which newcomers are most likely to contend for major roles in 2017?
TW: Xavier LeGrant (NC State transfer) swung the bat well in the fall and earned an opportunity to get on the field somewhere this Spring. There are many freshmen, including catchers Chase McCroskey, Jackson Williams and Cole Jackson, who will get opportunities behind the plate and at DH early. Ward Betts is a hard-nosed 2B who had a good fall offensively and shows consistency defensively.

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