Bulldogs aiming in 2013

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2013

Andalusia’s Quinton Maddox pitches during an earlier game last season. | File photo

Andalusia’s Quinton Maddox pitches during an earlier game last season. | File photo

Andalusia’s baseball team has a bitter taste in its mouth.

The Bulldogs are looking to build on from last season in 2013 as they get under way on Monday.

In 2012, the Bulldogs fell in two games to St. James in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs in Montgomery.

AHS will have everybody returning from last year’s team, which includes 10 juniors, four sophomores, nine freshmen and four seniors (two of which were starters last year).

Andalusia head baseball coach Jonathan Rasberry said this group of players will be the most experienced he’s ever coached.

“About five or six of these guys started with me since ninth grade,” he said. “I think, as a whole, our team is excited about this year with the experience and group of guys we have.”

The senior Bulldogs are Zach Ward, Grant Marcum, Carl Crigger and Keontya Johnson.

In area action, AHS will compete in Class 4A, Area 2 with Hillcrest-Evergreen, Monroe County and Wilcox Central. The regular season area games will be in a best of three series.

Starting off at Brewbaker Tech on Monday for a doubleheader, the Bulldogs go on to face Dothan later next week, and after a few regular season games, the Bulldogs begin area play on March 7 on the road at Hillcrest-Evergreen.

AHS will play rival Straughn in a doubleheader contest on March 11 and 19.

From March 22-23, the Bulldogs will travel to play at Troy University in the Best of the Best tournament against Charles Henderson, UMS-Wright, Stanhope Elmore and Northview-Dothan.

Just five days after the tournament at Troy, Andalusia travels to compete in the 2013 Pounder Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the Bulldogs will play teams from Tennessee and Florida. The invitational lasts from March 28-30.

Scheduling games and tournaments against good, quality teams will give AHS an opportunity to advance farther in the playoffs this year, Rasberry said.

“This (tournament) will get us away from Andalusia a little bit, and that way, we can kind of bond together as a team,” he said. “We’ll be doing a lot of stuff together up there.

“It’s going to be a lot of good competition.”

In 2012, Andalusia relied more on its hitting and defense to carry it through some tough contests.

The Bulldogs’ strengths this year are pitching and defense in general, Rasberry said.

Andalusia’s pitching staff includes, but is not limited to: Ross Graham, Quinton Maddox, Grayson Campbell, Daniel Henderson, Jud Rogers, Braydon Burkhardt, Hunter Earnest, Justin Scherzinger and Taylor Griffin.

“They all at some point have pitched,” Rasberry said. “We’ve been working hard in the weight room and bull pen.”

This season, Andalusia will be keeping a log, where individual and team goals are listed, Rasberry said.

Two team goals include not losing an area game and to have a team batting average of .325.

“That was something they decided because we really did not hit the ball well last year,” Rasberry said.

The last goal AHS has is a state championship.

“That starts with the first couple rounds in the playoffs and area play,” Rasberry said. “It also goes back to the small goals to reach that major goal.

“It’s a long way off,” he said. “We have, I think on our schedule, 19 weeks. We have a goal every week. I did it for 19 weeks until the state championship. That’s what we’re doing it for, to have the opportunty to play in the state championship. It’s going to be up to these boys to put in the time and effort to reach that final goal.”