Generals look to newcomers to make impact on seasonBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
Newton County Academy baseball coach Kelly Alderman might have two of the best baseball players in Class AA this season. It’s just the other seven that he’s anxious to find out about.
Leading the Generals are a pair of college-level players in senior Braxton Rose, who signed to play at East Central, and sophomore Kemp Alderman, who is committed to Ole Miss.
Both put up monster stats for the Generals last year, leading the team to a 20-13 record and a South State championship series against Wayne, where they lost a pair of one-run games. Alderman led the team with a .525 average, as he hit 10 home runs, 15 doubles and drove in 54 runs. Rose was second on the team with a .386 average and drove in 23 runs. Rose was also dominant on the mound, going 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA with 102 strikeouts.
The Generals return five starters from last year’s team but also added three transfers who are expected to start this season.
“If we don’t throw strikes and play defense and hit the ball, we aren’t going to win a game,” Alderman said. “I want to see it on the field before I say that we are solid on defense. At times we look good and at times we don’t.”
After Rose and Alderman, returning is Zach Joyner (4-4, 39.2IP, .314BA, 15 2B), Lincoln Jordan. and Dalton Sibley. Also in the mix this year will be Jacob Hitt and Austin Upton at first base, Hayden Wall at second, Alex Thompson at short along with Rose while Alderman, Joyner and Lee Hollingsworth will split time at third. Behind the plate, Alderman or Joyner will split time.
In the outfield, Lincoln Jordan started last year while Enterprise transfer Logan Little will likely start in center field. In right field, Sam Mayes, Wesley Williams and Sibley are all battling for time.
“I think we could be solid, it’s just whether if we will get after it,” Alderman said. “I really think defense will be our strong point, and I think we will hit better than we did last year.”
On the mound, Alderman says Rose is the No. 1 starter and Alderman will also see innings, either in a starter or closer role. After that, Alderman is looking for Joyner, Upton, Hitt, Little and Williams to see innings.
“I do know who my No. 1 is,” Alderman said of Rose. “But right now, he’s battling some issues. He tore a retina in his eye and is dealing with that. He’s doing better, but isn’t 100 percent. After that, I don’t know who will be my No. 2 or No. 3 starters.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Upton can do. Jacob Hitt doesn’t throw that hard but throws strikes and has a good breaking ball that will help us.”
In the district, NCA will compete with Sylva Bay, Prentiss, Brookhaven and Clinton Christian.
“Brookhaven is loaded. They have two kids who have signed with Division I schools.” Alderman said. “It will be a very competitive district. It’s not a guarantee that we will make the playoffs.”