Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 11, 2017

With just a few weeks before the start of the 2017 AHSAA baseball season, Andalusia Bulldog head coach Tyler Dent is excited about what he is seeing from his players.

“This is just a tremendous group of kids and coaches,” Dent said. “I tell them everyday that I’m blessed just to be a part of this team. They absolutely work their tails off and they are just fun to be around. It’s exciting to be a part of this team.”

On Friday, the Bulldogs wrapped up their second week of full practice, and Dent said he has a lot of expectations for this team.

“It’s been a really good first two weeks of full practice,” Dent said. “We have played a couple of intersquad games that have gone really well. We have been working a lot on defensive drills and situational hitting. We seem to be struggling a bit to hit with runners on so we are really trying to stress producing under pressure.”

Dent said that the Bulldogs’ offense would be their strong point this season.

“I’m expecting some big things from our hitters,” Dent said. “We didn’t have to replace a lot of people off last year’s team. There were guys that we had to replace, but we also have a good core group coming back that has a lot of experience at the plate.”

While the Bulldogs are flush with experience at the plate and in the field, Dent said that his pitching staff will consist of a few untested arms.

“As a whole, we have a lot experience returning at the plate and even in the field,” Dent said. “We don’t have that kind of experience on the mound. Ethan Wilson and Sim Bowden are the only two that have logged significant varsity innings on the mound. We will be relying on them heavily to carry a lot of the load.”

Along with Wilson and Bowden, the other key players for the Bulldogs will be Riley Graham, Garrett Davis and Hogan Nichols said Dent.

“Riley has been with me for four years, going back to my first year at Andalusia,” Dent said. “As a freshman, he hit DH for his brother in the playoffs, so that just tells you the type of player he is. He is a great outfielder, hitter, leader and his work ethic is unbelievable.”

As for Davis and Nichols, Dent said the sophomore pair have played key roles for the Bulldogs.

“Garrett Davis has started for me since he was in eighth grade, so the expectations for him are higher than most other sophomores,” Dent said. “Hogan Nichols is another sophomore with high expectations. He does a tremendous job behind the plate for us. Catcher isn’t a job that a lot people want, but Hogan takes tremendous pride in what he does back there.”

The Bulldogs will begin the season on Feb. 20 in Montgomery against Trinity.