CLOVERDALE -- The Cloverdale baseball season got off to a great start after the team's 9-8 win over Southmont Tuesday. For second-year head coach Bryan Archer, the 2010 season is going to be one of renewed confidence for his team.
The team had a great run to close last season and to pick up a win in their first game this season. All seems to be going well for the Clovers.
The Clovers have a large team, but seniors Jeff Dale, Cody Foreman, Kyle Martin and James Murphy will help lead the way.
"We're still young," Archer said. "We have a lot of sophomores that will be playing -- starting. We have four seniors. Jeff (Dale) will do a lot of pitching and first base. Like (in our first game), I think he was 3-for-4, so he's going to be a big stick for us.
"Kyle (Martin), he's going to do a lot of pitching this year," he added. "Last year he was mainly a catcher, but he pitched a few games. Now that we have (Austin) Mannan, a freshman, back there that can hold his own, Kyle will get some innings.
"(Josh) Burdette and Frankie Skiles, two of our juniors, they'll play a lot. Frankie at short stop obviously and hitting clean up, Burdette, him and Jeff will be one and two. I'm trying to get him to work on some of his hitting. He's going to do all right for us," Archer commented.
It won't only be his upperclassmen who will be a major part of Cloverdale's success this season. Archer will also rely on a bevy of underclassmen to fill some key spots.
"Our sophomores, we've got Ethan Atwood who's batting second and playing left," Archer said. "Jordan Brinkman's a new player this year. He would have played last year, but he was injured, so he's going to step in. He's batting fifth right now and playing center. He did a great job (in our first game)."
"Trevor Lockwood. He had a lot of DHs last year, we got him some at-bats. This year, he's going to be starting in right and batting sixth or seventh. Then we have Shawn Shipp, who's also a junior. He didn't play last year, but he came out this year and he's worked his tail off. He's done a good job to earn himself the starting job at second. And he's the leadoff hitter too," Archer commented.
The team also put in some major time in the off-season, which is something Archer believes will benefit them greatly this season.
"The big thing with these guys this year is, there's about eight or nine of them that have put in six months of work in the off-season," he said. "It's kind of like what he told them Tuesday night before the game, 'All that time in the off-season, you know, in the cage or throwing or whatever, it's going to pay off.'"
"Tuesday night it was our hitting. I'm not saying it was great, but to start the season off hitting wise we did well. We hit the ball hard, we got some good hits, so the hard work is what I trying to get to them. The more time they put in in the off-season and stay focused on what they're doing, it's going to pay off. Tuesday night was a good start," Archer said.
"I'm looking forward to a good year. Our goal is to just be competitive in conference, county and then by the end of the season, be playing our best ball during sectional," he added.
Another thing Archer wants his team to do is not look too far down the road.
"I'm trying to stress to them -- one game at a time, focus on one pitch at a time and just take it slow and do what we've been practicing on doing. I'm hoping for a good year and these guys are pumped. They're ready to play ball. I'm happy about that too," he said.
In last year's sectional, the Clovers were able to defeat county rival North Putnam and it's something Archer wants his team to use as a spring board for this season.
"The first practice, the very first five minutes of practice, I said 'I don't want to dwell on last year. This is this year,' but I said, 'I want us to start off this season where we finished last year,'" Archer commented. "And for those seniors now and juniors, and even some of the sophomores that played as freshmen, they took that win against North Putnam in sectional as a big lift. That was a big confidence booster like 'Hey, we can play with anyone.'"
"North Putnam is a great program, so to beat a quality program like that in sectional, yeah, it was a big deal, but I wanted to stress to them that that was last year and we have to focus on this year," he said.
Archer knows his team isn't exactly where he wants it to be, but thinks the foundation is there to make some good things happen.
"Overall I think we're trying to do the right things to get this program built and we'll see how this year goes," he said. "We're getting there. We're not where I want to be yet, but eventually we will and these guys are the start of it and they're doing a great job for us," Archer concluded.
The Clovers take on Eminence at 9 a.m. and Turkey Run at 11 a.m. tomorrow at home.