Union hoping to capitalize on experience

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

Union baseball coach Dustin Hamrick may finally be getting some things to break his way.

The Yellowjackets enter the season with four seniors. To add to the excitement, the Yellowjackets moved out of the division with Enterprise and Clarkdale, giving Hamrick and the Yellowjackets cause for excitement.

"We have a lot of guys back," Hamrick said. "Everybody is back except for one senior. I feel like I have a lot of pitching depth and guys who give us a chance to win. We have about five or six pitchers who give us a chance to win. We might not use that many but we have five or six guys that can compete for us."

Leading the way for Hamrick this season will be seniors Lane Hanna and Casey Morris, both of whom have already signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College to pitch.

They are joined by seniors Cameron Sones and Michael McDonald.

"They are four guys that you can build a team around," Hamrick said. "They have been good players for us for years. We will rely heavily on them, being clutch when we need them to be. They are all good kids and they work hard. I will hate the day that I have to let them go but they all have bright futures and do a lot of things for us."

Also figuring in the mix is freshman Jaylon Buckley, whom Hamrick said will see significant innings on the mound.

Junior Austin Tate will pitch and play first base while junior Collin Ogletree is back after missing last year with a knee injury. Hamrick said Ogletree will catch and will see plenty of time behind the plate.

Sophomores Trevor Patchin will pitch and play in both the infield and outfield while sophomore J.T. Vance will play outfield and pitch. Sophomore Kobe Casey and Brandon Felton are also battling for playing time.

Hamrick also said he has some younger kids who are competing for playing time in Jacob Moore, Kolton Cockerham, Rope Lovern and Judd Young.

"We have been battling the last couple of years with young guys out there," Hamrick said. "But we have more of a veteran team this year than we have had in the past few years. Last year, we lost 12 games by one or two runs. I am hoping that we can flip that around this year. Our record isn't the greatest because we play a lot of 4A and 5A teams and the district is always competitive. We aren't going to scare anyone, we just have to figure out a way to win those close games."

Hamrick said the key to a winning season depends on all facits of the game.

"First, I think we have to do a better job of competing at the plate," Hamrick said. "We have to have that bulldog mindset that we aren't going to let someone strike us out. We strike out way too much. We just aren't very good two-strike at-bats.

"Defensively, we have to make the fundamental plays. We will make some great plays but it's the routine plays. Shortstop has been a big problem for us in the past. I put six or seven guys there last year and they all struggled. We have got to find somebody to step up there. On the mound, I feel like we have the depth to be competitive. We just have to be more consistent pounding the strike zone."

Union will compete with Lake, Philadelphia, Scott Central and Newton in division play.

"We have been battling with Enterprise and Clarkdale the last couple of years so I'm glad to see them gone," Hamrick said. "It's a new division but I think we can compete. Lake has always been good and you don't know what you will get out of Philadelphia. Scott Central is getting better so it's going to be very competitive still. I have heard our guys say they are going to win the division."