Season overview: Bobcats begin title defense
How do you follow up a state championship? Obviously, you defend it and give it another shot.
Although the Bobcats lost six starters from this past year – seven, if you include starter Bryant Hyde, who is rehabbing a torn ACL – they return one of the top players in the state and a bevy of talent just waiting for a chance to shine.
This makes Phil Campbell Coach Jonathan Raper’s job all the more challenging this year.
“Winning a state championship was a great honor, and we worked very hard for it,” said Raper, whose team went 40-5 last year, “but I’ve tried to tell our guys we are not going to win this year based on last year’s success. Yes, we are defending champs, but most of those guys have moved on. The majority of kids starting for us this year were along for the ride and learned a lot, but they did not carry the load.”
Two starters returning are Mason Swinney (P/IF) and Bryant Anthony (C).
Swinney, who has already signed a scholarship with the University of Alabama, is also being closely watched by scouts for professional baseball teams.
“Mason is great kid,” said Raper. “He doesn’t make a big deal of it. We have had a lot of scouts come through, and it is something I’ve never experienced before. I’m sure it adds some pressure, but if it does, he doesn’t show it. I’ve just told him to relax and enjoy the ride. Mason never makes himself bigger than the team.”
“Bryant is a leader on the field at the catcher position,” said Raper. “He has a lot of talent and has a chance to go places himself.”
Raper said if this year’s team is going to have any chance to duplicate this past year’s success, some things are going to have to improve.
“We have got to throw strikes,” said Raper. “I thought we would be strong in that area, but we still have some work to do. We have to be more consistent.”
Still, this team wants to recapture that feeling from this past season for themselves.
“They are hungry for another run,” said Raper. “They can’t be complacent and go through the motions. They have to fight every day because we have a target on our back.”
Phil Campbell plays in Class 3A, Area 15, with Danville, East Lawrence and Vinemont.
PHIL CAMPBELL VARSITY BASEBALL ROSTER
No. Name Grade
1 Braxten Goodson Sophomore
2 Braxton Mayfield Freshman
3 Hunter Baker Junior
4 Bryant Hyde Junior
5 Jacob Barnwell Freshman
7 Bryant Anthony Junior
8 Isac Hill Sophomore
9 Cody Quinn Sophomore
10 Cole Pace Junior
12 Gage Baker Sophomore
13 Cameron Habada Junior
14 Sage Raper Junior
17 Clay Morgan Junior
19 Cale Faust Freshman
22 Mason Swinney Senior
23 Noah Raper Freshman
24 Alex Allison Freshman
34 Kyle Pace Junior
55 Talon Rogers Sophomore
87 Bentley Hill Freshman