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Greyhounds hopeful as league play begins

Gaston baseball team has several seniors returning to anchor a playoff contender


The Greyhounds have some good pieces in place. Now it’s time to see what they can do with them.

“There’s definitely been an adjustment period, some new concepts that we’ve been introducing and new philosophies,” Gaston baseball coach Jake McGraw said. “It’s going extremely well, it’s just there’s never enough hours in the day.”

McGraw takes over the head coaching gig from Ray Gardner. He also coached the Hounds in basketball and thus is already familiar with some of his athletes who cross over from that sport.

Under McGraw, Gaston will look to keep the success of recent seasons going. Two years ago, the Hounds qualified for the Class 2A/1A state playoffs. Last year, they finished second in the Northwest League regular season (15-11, 14-7) and then fell just one win short of another state playoff bid in the league playoffs.

A number of players are back from that team. Perhaps the featured pitcher in the rotation will be 6-foot-2 right-hander Jarad Davis, long a team mainstay. He can also play third base when not pitching.

“He’s just so fundamentally sound, and he knows what he’s doing,” McGraw noted. “You put him in a situation and he feels comfortable and he’s not scared by the moment at all. He certainly anchors our staff.”

McGraw also expected for Dallas Underwood, another senior returner, to get plenty of time on the mound. He is pretty versatile and can play multiple infield positions when not pitching. Juniors Bryce Cullers and Dylan Duckworth should also factor into the pitching rotation.

Seniors Andrew Pence and Connor Matriciano will likely pencil in at first and second base, respectively. McGraw said that early on, Pence was finding success getting on base and that Matriciano has a “surprisingly explosive bat.”

Sophomore Jarred Tallent should also find some playing time in the infield. He was batting in the leadoff spot during the early games while Duckworth recovered from an injury.

Duckworth should patrol center field when he is not pitching, and Cullers, Nick Steele and Dylan Hiesler are capable outfielders, giving McGraw some options.

“It’s been going pretty well. It’s just nice,” McGraw noted. “We thought we were going to have a lot more question marks, but instead, we have a ton of guys that have filled positions and then even on our bench we have some guys that can just pop in and give us some production.”

Another player who has gotten off to a strong start is junior catcher Luke Anderson. He hit in the 5/6 spot the first couple games, going 5-for-7 with a walk, four RBIs and four runs scored.

“He has been extremely solid, not just working his butt off behind the plate catching every inning for us and filling a natural leadership role for us, but also at the plate,” McGraw said.

Gaston started the season 1-3, but two of their losses have come by a total of five runs, perhaps indicating that the Hounds should be a competitive outfit once again in 2016.

They don’t get much time to acclimate though, and not just due to the wet weather so far this spring. Their first league game of the season was scheduled for Tuesday against Delphian but was cancelled. That series is scheduled to wrap up with a doubleheader at Delphian on Friday.