03/09/12 — Rosewood baseball preview

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Rosewood baseball preview

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 9, 2012 1:48 PM

There is little consistency from season to season in the 1-A ranks of high school baseball. No one understands that better than fourth-year Rosewood head coach Jason King.

King took a veteran group to the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional championship series two seasons ago and enjoyed one of the most successful campaigns in program history. Graduation and roster turnover took its toll on the program in 2011 and the Eagles struggled to find themselves.

Heading into 2012, King is full of optimism that the squad he is going to put on the field has potential to compete for a Carolina 1-A Conference championship.

"We have a young group this year, but it's a talented group and a team that has shown a lot of potential in practice," King said. "We can do a little bit of everything as far as hitting and pitching, but like all teams in the first week of a season we still have some unanswered questions."

Looking around the infield King sees a group of returning players that should provide both stability and leadership as the season rolls along.

Taylor McGill is back behind the plate and has improved his defense in the offseason. Ian Speight will man first base and provide a power bat. Matt Shaw, Reed Howell and Brent Breedlove will occupy the other infield spots.

"We feel like the infield is pretty well set for us right now," King said. "That group brings a lot of experience to the table and we know what we can expect from them."

The outfield is a more fluid proposition.

Will Winslow will play center field and bat near the top of the order. The versatile senior may also spend time at first base and on the pitcher's mound. Will Lane will spend most of his innings in left field, but may have to play center when Winslow pitches, which leaves two outfield spots essentially up for grabs.

"There are still some things in the outfield we have to look at," King said. "Whether it is trying different guys in different spot or positioning guys differently. I feel like we still have some learning to do so that we can get better."

On the mound the Eagles will rely on Will Winslow, John Winslow and Howell to handle most of the pitching duties. All three boast extensive experience toeing the varsity rubber. John Winslow emerged last season as King's go-to arm late in the season and Howell has pushed for more innings by improving his command.

Will Winslow remains a hard-throwing presence.

"Some different guys may get some innings depending on the situation but those three are going to take a majority of the pitches," King said. "It is always a luxury to have multiple guys that can start a ballgame."

Rosewood opened the season on Feb. 29 with an extra-inning loss to Lakewood. The Eagles also dropped a game to perennial 3-A power C.B. Aycock in the first week.

The Eagles open Carolina 1-A Conference play on March 23 at defending league champion Ayden-Grifton.