By Harrison Tarr
For the Observer
The wait is finally over for fans of the Beauregard Hornets baseball program; spring is just around the corner and high school baseball season has officially arrived. The hometown squad hauled in three consecutive wins to kick off its season and head coach Seth Nolen said he believes that he has a special group of talent in 2022.
Early season success is likely an encouraging sight for the head coach who mentioned that a healthy mix-up in personnel from the 2021 season was imminent.
“We lost six seniors, we have six seniors this year,” Nolen said. “We’ve only got four juniors, so our junior class is small and there’s three sophomores that are strictly varsity. We’ve got a pretty good mix of upperclassmen and younger guys mixed in.”
According to Nolen, the group’s diversity in age has helped them prepare for the upcoming campaign and also provides them with a healthy dose of returning experience.
“Last year we actually played a lot of young guys,” Nolen said. “So all those seniors this year and the juniors this year, they all played last year. We actually have a lot of experience coming back.”
The biggest challenge for this year’s squad which returns so much prior experience sounds like a simple task: stay healthy.
“Through most of the season last year we were fighting through lots of bumps and bruises,” Nolen said. “Right, now everybody is healthy and ready to go.”
As any head coach might be, Nolen is excited that — of his departing players — he only had to bid farewell to two pitchers, leaving the Hornets in favorable shape entering the spring.
“We only lost two arms,” Nolen said. “So we’ve got seven guys returning this year that pitched last year, including the three that threw our area games last year.”
Beauregard’s rotation is headlined by senior Ethan Pooler.
“Our No. 1 guy right now is Ethan Pooler,” Nolen said. “He was our No. 1 guy last year and probably 2-a or 2-b his sophomore year. We’re expecting a big year out of him.”
An Emmanuel College signee, Pooler’s performance will be complimented by a trio of high-caliber members of the Hornet pitching staff
“We’ve got three that are 2-a, 2-b and 2-c,” Nolen said. “Those three will battle it out for game two and game three starters in the area.”
The group beyond Pooler is composed of seniors Brodie Barnes and Brayden Blackmon. Behind the pair of upperclassmen: Ethan’s younger brother, sophomore Brayden Pooler.
“Brayden Pooler — Ethan’s little brother — is a tenth grade lefty,” Nolen said. “He’s going to be pretty sporty before it’s over with.”
Between the lengthy list of returners and promise in the bullpen, the Hornet’s skipper claims he has no idea what the ceiling is for the team in 2022; he’s merely telling them to trust in the process.
“We don’t know what the ceiling is,” Nolen said. “That’s kind of the mindset we’ve kind of taken into the fall and the spring: we don’t know what our ceiling is now so let’s approach every day and every game and bust our tails and do it like it’s supposed to be done and see what we can make our ceiling become.”
If the group does their collective best, Nolen thinks his squad could be something special.
“We have the potential to be a really good baseball team before it’s over,” Nolen said.
The Hornets will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 24 when the team plays host to the Wildcats of Benjamin Russell at 4:30 p.m. CST.