Inexperienced Tigers hope to speed up learning curveBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
Newton High School will have a baseball coach this season as Rob Roberts takes over the program.
And he’ll have his work cut out for him with a young and inexperienced team.
“We are still learning the game,” Robertson said. “We only have two seniors out right now and only one of them has played. I have two coming from basketball but don’t really know what they can do. We will have a lot of young kids getting experience right now. The learning curve is pretty high. We might start two or three eighth graders that have a good future in front of them. They just haven’t played that much baseball.”
The two seniors currently on the squad for the Tigers are Aurelius Hardy and Sirvares Snow, both of who have signed to play college football. Hardy, who will start at catcher, signed with Alcorn State. Roberts said he was “a really good catcher who has been good at blocking up balls.”
Snow, who signed to play at Pearl River Community College, is playing baseball for the time. Roberts said Snow “is getting better every day. He’s just such an incredible athlete. If he gets a bunt down, nobody is going to throw him out.”
Roberts said senior Tony Burkes is expected to play second base when he comes out. At first base will be freshman Tyshun Evans, who stands at 6-foot-5. Roberts said “if he would take baseball seriously, there’s no telling how good he could be.”
Holding second down while Burks is in basketball will be eighth grader Deanthony Echols. At shortstop will be Marcos Martin and Roberts called him “his best fielder.” When he’s pitching, Tre Hillie will get the start while Jam Hughes will get the start at third.
Roberts said he thinks his infield is “pretty solid” but there is plenty room for improvement in the outfield. Hillie is slated to start in centerfield while Roberts hopes Snow can start at one of the other outfield spots.
On the mound, Roberts said Evans is his No. 1 pitcher with Hillie in the No. 2 slot, followed by Lawrence Morris who “has a strong arm and could be a really good baseball player one day.” Roberts said he also expects Martin and left-hander Casey Watts to see plenty of action as well.
“I just don’t want to walk a lot of guys,” Roberts said. “I’m just looking for strikes right now and let the infield play defense behind them.
“I’ve told them that anybody can catch fly balls. But when you bunt, there are several things that have to happen to get you out. We have worked on being really aggressive on the base pads.”
Newton will compete in Division 5-2A with Union, Lake, Scott Central and Philadelphia with four teams making the playoffs.
“I expect Union and Lake to be good as always,” Roberts said. “I think if we get some confidence, we could win a couple of district games and make the playoffs.”
“But one thing I will say is we have a manageable schedule. We aren’t playing a whole lot of powerhouses. We are playing a lot of schools that are like us so there is the chance to get some wins.”