Knights baseball looks to replace lost year's stars

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Marion County hopes to return to regional tourney in 2009

By The Staff

After graduating over half of its key players, the Marion County High School Knights baseball team will try to fill those shoes with many returnees that have little or no varsity experience. The team does return some players that have significant varsity experience and those guys will have to make the biggest impact for the team this season.  

The season schedule isn't as intense as the last two years but it has some usual Knight foes that are some of the best in the state. Highlights on the schedule include trips to Bowling Green to play in the Warren East Invitational and to Cumberland County to play in the Fred Capps Memorial tournament.  

The Knights will have to rely heavily on Jason Buckman, Justin Buckman and Tyler Wright who are the only three full-time starters from last year's team. Eric Miles, who is coming off an injury-riddled season, brings a lot of leadership abilities and looks to be a player who will hold down a starting infield position.  

Paul Spalding is another player who looks to contribute a great deal this season.  Spalding has grown and gotten faster from the previous season. He played in many games last season and that experience will help give him confidence to handle the pressures this season. In addition to that Buck Robinson and Joe Lewis will be worth watching as they develop to fill starting roles in the outfield.

Offensively the team will have two different approaches. Part of the line-up will play station-to-station baseball, while the other half will be playing small ball - bunting, hitting and running, and stealing bases.  

The Knights' pitching staff will be led by senior lefty Justin Buckman (2008: 2-0, 1 SV, 3.98 ERA) and junior Tyler Wright (2008: 6-4, 3.38 ERA, 46 K's/8 BB, 47.2 IP).

Buckman has primarily been used in relief roles in the past but this year he will be expected to fill a starter's role. Being a senior that is known as a "gamer," he should easily make the transition. Wright has been a varsity-starting pitcher since eighth grade. He is known for his consistency in the strike zone and issuing few free passes. He can go deep into games and will be looked at as the staff ace.

Other pitchers to see varsity action are sophomore Paul Spalding, juniors David Raley and Joe Lewis, and seniors Eric Miles and Jason Buckman. Miles is likely to be the  third pitcher in the rotation. He had some great junior varsity starts last year and was ready to start varsity games until his injury sidelined him for the season.  

Raley and Spalding will be looked upon to start games and be used in relief roles. Buckman will be used in relief appearances but may start some games if the backup catcher can prove he can fill the varsity role.  Other pitchers who will need to prove themselves at the junior varsity level but could log some varsity innings are sophomore Landon Baker and freshmen Eric Farmer and Dylan Spalding.

Overall, Marion County has a young, inexperienced staff. Many of the pitchers have a history of being in the strike zone. That is something the team can build off of. This staff will likely improve as the season progresses and they gain game experience.

Campbellsville High School appears to be the 20th District favorite having a small edge over the other three schools. Taylor County is always a consistent 20-game winner, and Adair County was the district runner-up last season. Marion County hopes to get back to the regional tournament after missing it two of the last three seasons.  

The 2009 20th district tournament will be played at MCHS, which will provide some extra motivation for the Knights to play well and win the tournament. The 17th district will probably be the favorite to win the  this season's regional tournament, which will be played at John Hardin High School.  Elizabethtown and Central Hardin would probably be considered the preseason favorites.

The 2009 Marion County baseball team should be fun and to watch.  They have a few players that will be able to play some college baseball. All of the players will play hard and play the game the way it needs to be played.

The field continues to improve and is considered one of the best fields in the region.