Experienced players returning to Eastside baseball

COVINGTON -- Eastside's baseball team has a lot of experience coming back which should hopefully translate into enough wins to make it to the Class AAAA playoffs.

"I think we have the talent that we need to have success," Eastside head coach Jon Ayers said. "We're optimistic that we're going to have a pretty good squad. I think the question mark is the quality of our opponents, we're quite not sure what we're facing being in a new region. Other than that, I feel real good about what we're doing."

The Eagles are going in with an extremely junior-heavy team which saw a lot of playing time last year. Eastside's team consist of eight juniors, two sophomores, two freshman and six seniors including last year's Region 4-AAA Player of the Year Musashi Briem.

Eastside is entering the season, with their first game at home on Monday at 5:30 p.m. against Rockdale, with eight available players to take over on the mound. Ready to take pitching responsibilities are Daniel Garrett, Ty Raynor, Hunter Ballard, Drew Buckhault, Dustin Kerbow, Peyton Pallay, Hank Steele and Ritchie Gray.

"I don't think we have anyone that's going to go out there and strike out 10 or 12 hitters," Ayers said. "But I think we have enough pitchers that if they throw strikes and put the ball in play and we play good defense we'll be in position to win games."

Even though the Eagles do not have a plethora of power hitters, they have enough good hitters to make a difference and score the runs they need.

"I think we have a good mix of kids that can put the ball in play and some with some decent power. Cody Walker is a very good leadoff hitter, he can get on base and he runs well. Briem is a good hitter that can hit the ball to all fields with power. Daniel Garrett has some pop in his bat. We're going to score runs even if we have to create scoring opportunities. We're going to be aggressive and try to make things happen offensively," Ayers said. "Our playing emphasis is to hit the ball and get on base. If we can get 10 base hits a game, even if they're all singles, we'll have a good opportunity to win baseball games."

While winning region and being able to take their claim as state champion is the ultimate goal for every team at this point of the year, Eastside is looking for a path to get them to that goal.

"The most important thing for me is that we improve throughout the year and peak at the right time. Throughout the season we'll have our ups and downs like every team will. We just want to peak at the right time and make a run in the postseason," Ayers said. "But the main thing we want to focus on is what we're doing. Are we doing everything we can control to put ourselves in the best situation?"