By Chris Parsons
Last season, the Whitley County Colonels turned in a 14-17 season under first-year head coach Kyle Adams after losing in the first round of the district tournament.
The good news for Adams is that after last season, he didn’t lose any players to graduation and has a full squad coming back this season.
The bad news for the Colonels is that most of the talent Adams returns is in the form of a large group of underclassmen.
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, Adams said the biggest obstacle for his team so far has been the lack of time they’ve been on the field thanks to Mother Nature.
“I think we may have been on the field three times so far in the preseason,” Adams said. “It seems like every time we get a chance to get some practice time in, the weather does its thing and keeps us indoors.”
As for the team itself, Adams said the lack of experience
“We’ve got two seniors, three juniors and the rest are sophomore and freshmen,” Adams said. “That pretty well tells you that we are extremely young and we were young last year.
“We really don’t know what to expect because of the lack of time on the field,” he added. “We’re just like any other team right now that is young in the fact that you just hope for the best and try to stay away from a bunch of injuries as you go along.”
While the fact that the Colonels are young, Adams said there are some benefits to that youth. Those young players that haven’t solidified any playing time can sometimes push other players to do well, which can lead to competitiveness when it comes to playing time.
“Some teams you have kids that just come in and expect playing time to be given to them, and every team has some of those kids,” Adams said. “I let those kids know that nothing is going to be given to them and they will earn the chance to play.
“We have some kids that go out and just go through the motions and until we have everyone working as hard as the next one, we’ll struggle a little bit,” he added. “But I think we’ll get there eventually.”
As for experience and leadership, Adams will look to his two seniors, Tilmon Jackson and Alex Rose. While he’s not pitching, Jackson holds down the fort at second base, while Rose will be the regular third baseman if he isn’t manning the pitcher’s mound as well.
Junior returnees Corey Crisologo, Jordan Crusenberry and Cody Lewis will be in the mix when it comes to leadership as well. Crisologo will play some second base and shortstop, while Lewis will catch and play outfield and Crusenberry will man first base and play catcher as needed.
With that said. Adams said he likes his core when it comes the defensive side of things, but admitted the play of his infield may have some new faces.
“Our cornerstone as far as the infield will be Tilmon (Jackson), but everything else is pretty wide open on a regular basis,” Adams said. “Our defensive alignment is going to depend on who is hitting better at that point in time.
“With our youth, we’re going to be the kind of team that goes with who is playing best from day-to-day,” he added.
As a whole, Adams said this season is one that could go either way, hinging on the play of the younger guys. If they step up and decide to compete, the Colonels will have a chance to contend. If not, Adams said things could be tough.
“I think Williamsburg, Corbin and us are pretty young as a whole,” Adams said. “It could come down to who is playing better by the time we face each other and in the postseason.
“South is at the top, but it's not like they can’t be beaten, so we just have to come out and play the games,” he added.
Whitley County is scheduled to open the season March 12 as it travels to Jackson County.