Glenwood Baseball to Lean on Athleticism, Depth


By Wil Crews


Ousted in the state semifinals last season, the Glenwood Gator varsity baseball team has every intention to build on its 2021 results and make another push for the state crown in 2022.

“The offseason has been really good,” said head coach Tim Fanning. “I’m hoping it’s going to translate into a fun season. The guys have been extremely focused and have worked really hard.”

Despite graduating a large senior class last year, Fanning’s confidence in his team’s ability this season has grown since starting practice in early January. Particularly, Fanning noted his teams athleticism and acumen on the defensive side of the ball.

“We are super athletic,” he said. “Defensively, we are going to have a ton of range. A lot of good arms and speed. You have got to do it on the field, but just in preseason it looks like there are not a lot of balls that are going to drop in the outfield, and not a lot that are going to drop in the infield. I’ll be extremely surprised if we are not very good defensively.”

The season is off to a relatively good start for the Gators already, as the group travelled to Tuscaloosa Academy this weekend and swept the series 2-0 with 13-0 and 14-0 shutout wins. 

Juniors Jackson Kennon and Trent House earned the wins on the mound, positioning themselves to be factors in a pitching rotation that Fanning said is still undecided.

“From a pitching stand point, we have a lot of good arms, but not a ton of experience,” Fanning said. “It will probably take the first month of the season to figure out where we are in terms of the rotation — who is going to start, guys on the back end and things like that. There will be a lot of guys getting a lot of opportunities on the mound the first month of the season.”

Following the series against Tuscaloosa Academy, Glenwood traveled to Mississippi to take on  Starkville and Desoto Central.

“Those are two of the best programs in the state of Mississippi,” Fanning said.

The Gators dropped both games, with junior Jacob Page and senior standout Colton Dempsey taking the losses on the mound.

The losses show Glenwood what it needs to compete with the best of the best, and Fanning said he will lean on the three seniors who started last season in particular — Dempsey, catcher Jake Smith and lead-off batter Ty Smith — to set the standard going forward.

“Dempsey has thrown a ton of innings in a lot of big games over the last three years; Smith has caught a bunch of games and is a leader for us; and Ty Smith led off for us last year and led us in hitting batting average wise,” Fanning said.

The youth on this year’s Glenwood team won’t change Fanning’s approach, however.

“I think we are going to be able to put a lot pressure on people, and that is the way I like to coach,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to watch that materialize. We can handle the bat very well, so small ball and taking extra bases, that is definitely going to be something we strive to be super successful at.”

Looking around the area and at the greater schedule as a whole, Fanning pointed out rival Lee-Scott and Montgomery-based Pike Academy as two of the most formidable foes.

“Lee-Scott is always going to be tough, they always are,” Fanning said. “That’s who we have to beat to win our area. Pike has been on the top as far as the AISA is considered, and they have set the standard the last several years so that is what we have to build toward.”

The Gators still have plenty of room for growth before they can even think about being in the state championship on May 11 and 12. Fanning said his squad’s depth could be one of the most critical factors in helping Glenwood lift the trophy at season’s end.

When you lose that many seniors there is just a lot of competition,” he said. “I think in the first couple weeks there will be a lot of things working themselves into play. We are very deep. I’ll be honest, I feel comfortable with our first two teams, we are two deep at every position. That is a great luxury to have, not from an injury standpoint but from a philosophy standpoint. If guys aren’t taking care of their business I have no problem putting the next guy in. The competition has been really good is what I am saying, so that is what is super exciting.”


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