By Tim Chambers
omahawk Sports Editor
Johnson County Middle School will once again field a strong team with seven returning players on the squad. Head coach Julian Crews begins his 19th season at the helm and will be one of the favorites to win the league championship.
“We’ll definitely compete because we have seven good players back from last year,” said Crews. “I feel like our hitting will be our strength in addition to having three pretty good pitchers. We have a couple of young guys that will shore up our team. I really like the makeup of this group of kids.”
The team should boast a strong pitching staff led by ace righty Zack Parsons, Seth Conder, Ethan Icenhour and Asa Lewis.
“Zack and Seth throw hard, and they throw strikes,” said Crews. “We can start Ethan or Asa out there and feel good about our chances.”
Crews agreed it’s a good problem to have but said that’s only one of the team’s strong suits. The other one is their hitting where they have looked good in a couple of scrimmage games so far.
“We swing the bat pretty good from one through seven,” added Crews. “We also have a couple of seventh graders that we’re high on about helping us in our starting lineup.”
Conder will lead off followed by Icenhour, Lewis, and Parsons. Dalton Brown, Trey Snyder, and Josh Austin will follow.
“I think we can score some runs with those guys,” added Crews. “They all put the bat on the ball, and most of them can hit pretty hard.”
Crews said that seventh graders Payton Pavusek and Graham Reece will probably fill out the remaining two spots.
“Peyton is going to help us defensively in the infield and at the plate too, added Crews. “Graham Reece will head up the outfield, and we like the way he’s able to get on base.”
Isaiah Curd, Chris Grill, and Dakota Holt will battle for playing time, and Crews feels like all of them will help the team.
Crews tabbed Happy Valley as the team to beat in the league.
“They had a lot of kids back, and Hampton always plays us well,” said Crews. “I think we can be right up there if we play the way that I expect us too.”
The team will play at Unaka on March 16, weather permitting. The first pitch is slated to begin at 4:30 pm.