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Having high expectations

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College baseball coach Steve Helms said the expectations are “high” for this year’s team.

The Saints finished with a 48-11 record at the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Okla., losing to LSU-Eunice, 10-9 on May 27, 2009.

“Of course coming off the World Series trip last year, we’ve got the majority of those players back,” Helms said. “The expectations are very high.”

Helms quickly pointed out that his main concern is that his players “think it will happen again.”

“But, we’ve got to go and earn that,” he said. “We’ve made it as tough a schedule as we can possibly make it. There will be some ups and downs, but I really like the character and the closeness of this team.

“They are really bonded — tight,” Helms said. “I’ve been here 20 years and this is the tightest group I’ve ever had.”

Starter players in the infield for the Saints include former Andalusia player Taylor Culbreth at first base; Jacob Bacon and Chezz McCann at second base; and Boone Shear at third base.

In the outfield, the Saints have Shane Turner, Cory Reed, Jeremy Williams, Chad Helms, Mark Linton and Ryan Waltman.

As far as pitching staff, Helms said he has never had such depth as he does in this year’s rotation.

“It’s the deepest we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ll show you some different angles and that will help us.”

Former Pleasant Home pitcher Josh Dozier, Tyler Dent, former Opp pitcher Cody Hall, Blake Hanson, Tad Scott, former Red Level pitcher Cale Nolen and Jeffery Enloe make up the pitching staff for the Saints.

Since the Saints are not a part of a conference in the NJCAA, the team needs to qualify to play in the Southeast Regional Tournament in Martinsville, Va., in May.

“If we win that, then we get a trip to Indiana and Oklahoma (for the World Series),” Helms said.

When asked what are the important games this season, Helms said there “aren’t any.”

“We’re coaching that way,” he said. “We’re coaching to play our best ball late in the season. We don’t have to win the conference or anything. We’ll back down and were going to go at a slower pace to build enough strength for late April and early May.”

Helms said practice so far has gone well leading up to his team’s first game set for Tues., Feb. 2, at Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton at 1 p.m.

“Practice has been slow,” Helms said. “The wetness has hampered us a little bit, but it rains everywhere.”

Lastly, Helms said one big focus this year is to not get over confident.

“There are high expectations,” he said. “Even with ourselves, we’re expected to do something.”