Front row, L-R: Tanner Marshall, Graham Reece, Ezra Howard, Gorge Grill, Ethan Reece, Dominic Kelly, and Nate King. Back row, L-R: Asst. Coach Brad Reece, Peyton Pavusek, Chase Muncy, Connor Simcox, Tyler Bouchelle, Dalton Adams, Dakota Holt and head coach Julian Crews. Not pictured: Asst. Coach Travis Holt. Photos by Tameula Trivette

A “fountain of youth” must grow up and perform in a hurry for the middle school baseball team to have some success in 2019. Coach Julian Crews is back as the head skipper with over two decades under his belt as a baseball coach.
The Longhorns return only two starters off of last year’s team and three with any type of varsity experience. Peyton Pavusek and Graham Reece are the lone two starters,
and Dakota Holt logged
some varsity innings as a reserve.
That means that ten newcomers must step up in a hurry, but Crews is excited with their eagerness to learn and potential.
“I’m really counting on Peyton, Graham, and Dakota to lead our team,” said Crews. “They understand their roles, and they know what it takes to win at the varsity level. We have a lot of athletic ability and raw talent among our other players, but we must find a way to develop it during the season. We’ll be learning as we go.”
Pavusek will play shortstop and pitch and could be the team’s top hitter for average. Reece will handle the catching duties and bat leadoff. He too knows how to get on the bath paths and hits for a good average.
Dakota Holt will hold down first base while George Grill will be penciled in at second.
Ezra Howard will man the hot corner at third base. The outfield will consist of Tanner Marshall in the center, Tyler Bouchelle in right and left field will be by a committee of characters. The trio of Nate King, Dominic Kelly, and Ethan Reece will battle it out for that spot.
Reece is also the backup catcher. Chase Muncy should bolster the pitching staff while Dalton Adams is a player that hits the ball good and could be in the lineup as well.
One player that Crews is high on is seventh-grader Connor Simcox. He will be the one getting most of the innings on the mound according to his head coach.
“Conner has a good bat and will hit in the middle of our lineup. He’ll play some first and third base too. He’s kind of our swing man. We’re counting a lot on him especially as a pitcher and hitter.”
Crews added that Howard has a strong arm at third base and that Kelly and King give the outfield a lot of speed along with Marshall and Bouchelle. King also does an excellent job of putting the ball into play as does Marshall.
“Ezra, Tyler, and Tanner will hit in the bottom three of our lineup, but we’re expecting good things out of them,” said Crews. “We have a lot of kids that are young and inexperienced at this level, so it’s a wait and see who is playing well at the time. We’ll determine our lineup as the season goes on.”
Crews tabbed Providence Academy as the team to beat in their conference.
“They have a lot of kids over there that play travel ball and take private lessons. They just restock every year, so you have to elevate your game if you want to compete with them. We’re hoping that we can get better too as the season goes on.”
The team will play at Hampton on Thursday, March 14 and will be at home against Unaka on March 21.