BULLDOGS LOOK TO REPEAT: Andalusia readies for 2018 season

Published 12:05 am Friday, February 1, 2019

The Andalusia Bulldogs began practicing baseball this week as they begin their quest to repeat as the Class 4A state champions.

Andalusia returns a strong core of players that won the 2018 Class 4A state championship.

“Expectations are the same as they have been in the past,” Bulldogs’ head coach Tyler Dent said. “This time of year, we are trying to get better at different stuff on a daily basis.”

On Monday, the team split up and played a scrimmage game.

“We intersquaded on Monday,” Dent said. “Our pitchers threw really well and the hitters didn’t hit very well. That’s not really a concern, but it’s something we deal with every year. Nothing has really changed. One of the coaches even made the comment that it seems like we just took a week off and picked right back up where we left off. Our philosophy hasn’t changed. We are still loving each other on a daily basis and trying to help each other on a daily basis.”

The Bulldogs must replace three starters including Class 4A Player of the Year Ethan Wilson. Wilson was a first-team outfield selection for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A All-State team and was also named the Class 4A Hitter of the Year.

Wilson is currently playing college baseball for the University of South Alabama.

“We lost a heck of a player in center, but we have a good guy that’s ready to step into that spot,” Dent said. “Caleb Blackston is the guy that is going to be playing center for us this year. He was the guy last year who was robbing home runs in batting practice and just running hard gap-to-gap to track down balls.”

The Bulldogs return other players that were selected for the Class 4A first-team All-State roster.

Senior Hogan Nichols was named Class 4A first-team catcher and junior Jacob Cravey was named first-team pitcher.

“I think pitching is going to be our strong suit this year,” Dent said. “We will be pretty good on the mound. Obviously, losing a guy like Ethan (Wilson) on the mound is a big deal, but guys like Cravey, Chip Morgan, Gill Morgan, J.W. Jones and Noah Kelley coming back really help. They threw a ton of strikes on Monday in the 25-30 pitches they threw. We threw eight guys on Monday and only had four walks. I was really proud of that.”

Dent said Nichols and Cravey would continue to be key players for the Bulldogs in 2019.

“Hogan is a heck of a guy behind the plate,” Dent said. “He is one of the best in the state in my opinion. He knows his role and my expectations of him. I tell him every day that he is the quarterback and all that stuff. He is the guy that everybody leans on and everybody looks at. When he walks in the locker room, he has to carry that weight on his shoulders. He knows that the expectations on him from everybody are through the roof. Cravey knows we expect him to give us a legitimate chance to win against anybody every time he toes the rubber.”

Andalusia opens up the season on Feb. 18 at home against Brantley.