Panthers face youth movementPublished 7:42pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013
PINETOWN — Last season Northside went 14-10 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs as they were powered by Washington Daily News Pitcher of the Year Brandon Marsh and WDN all-area first baseman Dillon Cutler.
With the graduation of both Marsh and Cutler, along with all three of the Panthers starting outfielders, it will be tough to match last year’s record.
Those holes leave new players with new roles and as the 2013 season kicks into action Northside coach Keith Boyd is hoping that this year’s players have brought their work boots and shovels.
“Right now I’m starting five guys that were playing JV last season,” Boyd said. “It’s just going to take a while before we can see where they all fit in.”
The good news for Boyd is that he has some veteran players to help ease the transition for the rookies. The Panthers bring back four starters in middle infielder Caleb Sherman, third baseman Aaron Miller, catcher Neil Gibbs and P/SS Ryan Arthur.
“Neil, Caleb, Ryan and Aaron are guys who played last year and been there before,” Boyd said. “We feel like we can be OK defensively.”
Arthur, a junior, headlines the Panthers rotation. As for who will start behind him? That’s something that is yet to be determined.
“Ryan’s got a fastball that moves pretty well, he’s in the low 80s with that. He’s got a good curveball and a changeup. He brings some leadership to the table and when he’s on we feel like he can do some good things for us,” Boyd said. “We’re just searching for that No. 2 and No. 3 guy. Right now (junior) Colby Freeman, (senior) Caleb Sherman and (junior) Kirby Clark are all guys we’re looking at.”
In the outfield, Brandon Barr appears to have made a strong case for the starting right field spot but at this time all positions are still up for grabs. Corbin Minor and Kirby Freeman are battling for center field duties, while Cole Cutler and Camden Ambrose are splitting time in left field.
With a strong group of infielders backing up Arthur on the mound, the Panthers are solid on defense, but the big question is can this group make up for the loss of Marsh and Cutler at the plate.
“We have to find some way to get three or four more guys to hit the baseball,” Boyd said. “We have to have six or seven guys in the lineup that we can feel good about putting the ball in play and right now we just don’t know if we have that yet.”