Head coach Eric Bishop said he believes those new starters will get the job done.
“Our focus is to keep the tradition alive and live up to the teams before,” Bishop said. “While we don’t have a lot of players with varsity experience from last year, we have kids who have been quietly committed to this program and are ready for their chance to step in. I think a lot of people will be underestimating the product we’ll be putting on the field just because of all the seniors we have lost, but I feel like these guys are ready to step in and it’s their time to do it.”
Nine seniors are gone from a year ago, seven of them starters.
“We don’t have as much returning in experience as we have in the past,” Bishop said. “We have Cody Kremer and Kyle Adams, who are our returning starters from last year. We only have three seniors. That’s Cody Kremer, Ross Kennedy and Trey Gulledge, who was still in our wrestling program until Monday, when he moved to baseball practice for good.”
The coach said having few starters has had one plus already.
“The greatest thing we’ve got going on right now,” he said, “is we have some highly competitive practices because people know so many positions are wide open. We’ve had some of the best practices this preseason that I remember in years.”
That competition will continue because there are as many as three players competing for positions.
“Behind the plate we have Zack Sherwood, Case McCord and Ross Kennedy all competing for playing time.”
He described Kennedy as a good all-around player who can help the Tigers at several positions.
“Right now, Ross Kennedy is being somewhat of a utility player for us,” Bishop said. “He’s catcher, third base, second base and can play in the outfield.”
At shortstop, we’ve got Christian Smith, a sophomore, Cody Melton, a sophomore, and Kyle Adams, a junior. He said Adams also is an all-around player, very capable of snaring balls at second base and in the outfield as well for the Tigers.
“We’ve got Dakota Hines and Dylan Cochran competing for playing time at first base.”
Some of those same names are floating around for consideration in the outfield.
“We’ve got about five or six outfielders competing for three positions out there. It makes for some highly competitive practice times,” he said.
Bishop said the Tigers have several hurlers.
“As far as our pitching staff, obviously it will be headed by Cody Kremer. We’ll look for a lot of innings out of the next four guys. We consider Dylan Cochran, Kyle Adams and Tristin Smith to be the next in the order and Ross Kennedy also pitches for us. He can play behind the plate, on the mound, third base, second base and in the outfield.”
Kremer was a dominating pitcher for Adairsville last season and has already signed to play baseball with the University of Georgia. He also was the team’s third baseman when he wasn’t on the mound.
Bishop said it likely will take some time for coaches to understand the strengths of the players so they expect to be tweaking their starting lineups for some time.
“With time and a number of games under their belt, we’ll find out who we can count on to help us make a run late in the season. You probably won’t see the same lineup on consecutive games until six or seven games into the schedule,” he added. “We’ll be looking for progress and once we see a high level of play, we expect the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Bishop said the Tigers will face tough competition in the nonregion portion of their schedule.
“This is probably the toughest schedule we’ve had after losing our [region] crossover games,” he said. “Our region decided in the off season not to play crossover games, so we had to reach out and find games and our schedule is full with higher classification teams.
The Tiger scheduling went a little wider afield in picking up opponents.
“We’re playing two teams from Alabama and two teams from Mississippi. We’re going to Mississippi and the two Alabama schools are coming here. We’ll play two on spring break weekend, so this is the toughest schedule Adairsville has had since I’ve been there.
“We don’t have all the final details, but we’ve got the commitments and all of that. They are excited about that trip. It’ll come at a good time in our schedule. We’ll get out of school, hit the road and play some baseball, then come back. The idea is we’ll hopefully finish strong down the stretch run.”
The Adairsville coaching staff has proven in the past it can make adjustments during the season with good effect.
A year ago the Tigers lost two of their first five games, prompting a strong emphasis on defensive play by their coach.
The Tigers responded by concentrating on improving that portion of their game, and they promptly went on an 18-0 tear through their schedule, closing the year with a 25-5 record and ending their season against Blessed Trinity, in the second round of the state playoffs.
Bishop is hopeful a tough early season will pay dividends once the Tigers start their region schedule, which opens March 13 with Model.
“Hopefully that will be one of our strengths down the road, that some of these inexperienced guys will have 10, 12, 15 games under their belt against good competition and we can make a run at it the last couple of weeks,” he said.
2012 Adairsville Tigers
1 Kyle Adams, Jr.
5 Ross Kennedy, Sr.
6 Tyler Washington, So.
7 Tristin Smith, So.
8 Zach Sherwood, Jr.
9 Hunter Smith, So.
11 Cody Kremer, Sr.
12 Casey McCory, So.
13 Cody Melton, So.
14 Dakota Hines, So.
15 Blaine Bishop, Fr.
16 Dalton Whitten, Jr.
18 Colin Bearden, Fr.
19 Austin Harris, Fr.
21 Phoenix Brown, Fr.
22 Spencer Moore, So.
23 Jacob Smith, Fr.
26 Trey Gulledge, Sr.
27 Reese Spencer, Fr.
29 Dustin Knight, Fr.
31 Neal Knight, Jr.
32 Dylan Cochran, Jr.
33 Andrew Ward, Jr.
35 Nathan Medlock, So.
2012 Adairsville Baseball Schedule
Feb. 24 at Cass, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 28 Cass, 5:30 p.m.
March 3 Hueytown, Ala., at S. Paulding, 2 p.m.
at S. Paulding, 4 p.m.
March 5 at N. Paulding, 5:55 p.m.
March 8 SE Whitfield, 6:30 p.m.
March 13 at Model, 6:30 p.m.
March 15 Coahulla Creek, 5:30 p.m.
March 16 Coahulla Creek, 5:30 p.m.
March 20 at Rockmart, 5:30 p.m.
March 22 at Armuchee, 5 p.m.
March 23 Coosa, 7 p.m.
March 27 at River Ridge, 5:50 p.m.
March 29 Pepperell, 5:30 p.m.
March 30 Sylacauga, Ala., 7 p.m.
April 3 Rockmart, 7 p.m.
April 6 at Mississippi (TBA)
April 7 at Mississippi (TBA)
April 10 Armuchee, 7 p.m.
April 12 at Coosa, 5 p.m.
April 13 River Ridge, 5:30 p.m.
April 17 at Pepperell, 5 p.m.
April 20 Model, 6 p.m.
April 25 Region Playoff