New-look Legion team to open summer

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, May 25, 2017

It almost didn’t happen this summer, but Beaufort County Post 15 will field a Junior American Legion baseball team. The season opens Friday at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex when Bertie visits town.

Last summer’s club — the Pirates — was comprised mostly of players from Washington and Northside. Southside and Terra Ceia were represented, too. Players like Cody Godley, Reg Bishop and Hunter Sparks, among others, went on to be impact players this past season.

Post 15 will take on a different look and feel this season. The team has traded in its purple and gold for black and teal. They will be the Marlins instead of the Pirates. Northside, Southside and Washington will be represented, but coach Donell Albritton will be bringing in players from his TEACH team, as well as a few from Greenville Christian Academy and John Paul II.

“We’re pulling from six schools this year. We’re a diverse group,” Albritton said. “It’s a fun, young group. … You’ll see excitement. We’ve got a lot of team speed. We’re going to play an exciting brand of baseball. We don’t have a lot of hitters, so we’re going to run a lot. My coaching style is aggressive.”

Assembling the team was a bit of a last-minute venture, but Albritton and the Marlins feel like they’re prepared for the season opener. Team chemistry is always iffy with a team comprised of players from different schools, but he’s seen glimpses of what it can be during practices. They may play for different teams, but many of them have played either with or against their teammates in the past.

“I’m pleased with the group of guys we’ve got. They’re from different schools, we’ve got some Greenville guys, but they mesh well,” he said. “The chemistry is going to be good. A lot of these kids know each other from travel ball. There are a couple of guys that hadn’t seen each other in a few years, but they pick right back up.”

Albritton hasn’t decided too much of the starting lineup yet. For one, he’s taken a page out of East Carolina football coach Scottie Montgomery’s book in that he “doesn’t want to give them too much sugar early on.” He wants there to be position battles.

The other wrinkle to it is that Albritton thinks there’s offensive depth throughout the team.

“Bats are strong, and that’s what keeping the starting lineup from being cemented,” he said. “Even though the bats are strong … that still may be our weakest point. … All the guys make solid contact. We’ve got solid gap hitters, but not too much power.”

He has nailed down a few positions ahead of the meeting with Bertie.

“Jeremiah (Moore) could be a gold-glove third baseman,” Albritton said of one of his sure-fire starters for this weekend. “He’s really good. Usually, if you go to Washington games, you’ll see him at first base. You’ll be surprised at how good a glove he has at third.”

He added that Eli Maxey of Greenville Christian, who has impressed with his batting, will start at shortstop. Washington’s Trippe Bonner will be behind the plate catching.

Cody Modlin will start on the mound. He impressed at Southside this season and will be on hand for Post 15’s first 10 games of the summer. Other arms include Maxey, Oakwood’s Jordan Atkinson, Tyler Rowe, Colby Case and others.

The Marlins are eyeing success in their conference this summer. Albritton said that conditioning and strength training will be focuses, too. He wants his players to grow as athletes.