By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Finding a place to play summer baseball can be quite difficult if you’re a teenager and live in Johnson County. But thanks to Longhorns’ assistant high school baseball coach, Jerry Whitener, that difficult task has been made easier.
The Longhorns will complete an 11-game schedule on Friday and they’ve done it with nearly 20 kids on the roster. That itself is a positive considering they graduated six senior starters off the 2015 squad.
“We’ve got some rising juniors and seniors who can fill those spots,” said Whitener. “Defensively we can be pretty good and our pitching might be deeper. We could struggle a bit on offense but we’re trying to improve in that area. We’re putting the bat on the ball right now but we’ve got to get stronger. We have a lot of kids who are having a hard time at hitting it out of the infield. So getting them in the weight room is going to be important.”
The Longhorns will be led by Whitener’s son, Nick, who should gather several looks by some local colleges. The senior standout has been busy playing for his summer travel ball team in addition to playing for his dad.
“Nick pitched some strong innings for us in an 11-0 win last week,” said Whitener. “He’s hit the ball good and played well but they’ve been others. We need for several of them to step up and play well.”
Two that have is sophomore shortstop, Jaiden Joiner, and junior first baseman, Gabe Reece.
“Joiner has hit the ball well and we need him to do that,” said Whitener. “We used a DH for him last year but he’s came on during the summer. Gabe Reece has also hit the ball well in almost every game. He looks a little unorthodox at times but he’s getting the job done. I can see him doing some good things next season.”
Reece will embrace that opportunity if given the chance.
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