Gators going forward

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Experienced Glenwood baseball team begins season

By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

When COVID canceled the 2020 high school baseball season, an inexperienced Glenwood Gator team was sitting pretty with a record of 13-2.

Almost a year later, the Gators are returning to the diamond, fielding a team with 10 seniors, a deep pitching rotation and plenty of power in the batter’s box.

“Every year is different regardless of who is returning or who is not,” said Glenwood Head Coach Tim Fanning. “It’s always a different group and you have to figure out what they are good at to be who you are and not who you are not.”

The Gators are scheduled to begin their season on Thursday at Hardaway High School in Columbus, Georgia. The boys have been locked in over the past weeks in preparation for opening day.

“The guys have worked extremely hard; they’ve been focused,” Fanning said. “Preseason has gone well. Pitching is usually always ahead of hitting, but guys are getting their timing down and taking better passes of the ball.”

With 10 seniors on the roster, the Gators may appear seasoned on paper. However, the preemptive cancellation of last year’s campaign means many of the boys have only played varsity for what was practically half a season.

“You would think there is a lot of experience,” Fanning said. “But in our program, a lot of the time you have to wait to play, and last year was their junior year and they only got to play 15 games. So you would think it’s a lot of experience, but that’s just on the surface.”

To combat the youth and inexperience, Fanning said he expects to lean heavily on his pitching rotation to begin the year.

“We are probably 10 to 12 deep arm wise,” he said. “The top of our rotation is all back.”

Senior and Auburn University commit Trevor Horne returns to lead the Gators as the team’s ace. “He’s definitely our number one pitcher,” Flanning said.

Fellow senior Avery Robinson and junior Colton Dempsey round out the top of the rotation, and Devin Denny is a senior who will often be called on out of the bullpen. “Those three are proven and have thrown a lot of innings,” Flanning added. “It’s just a matter of defining roles with the rotation and the first guys out the bullpen type stuff.”

Going forward, the biggest question for the Gators is how the lineup shakes out when they actually take the field. “We got some kids who can swing it,” Fanning said. “They’re pretty strong guys. I don’t know if that will hold true or not but just going through the preseason, that’s what it looks like.”

Fanning made it well known he’s not the type of coach who likes to wait around for a three-run home run. However, seniors Kody Bence and Trent Edwards figure to bring the pop in the middle of the lineup.

With just a few days before his team faces its first test, and two months away from a potential state championship, Fanning and the Gators are focusing on the basics for now.

“Our goal is always by spring break to hopefully have stuff figured out – everyone’s roles and everything,” he said. “That’s still a goal. We want to be able to pitch and play defense and manufacture runs.”

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