03/01/13 — BASEBALL TAB -- Eagles' juniors, sophomores must produce this season

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BASEBALL TAB -- Eagles' juniors, sophomores must produce this season

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 1, 2013 1:47 PM

Rosewood High School's baseball program has been like a carnival ride over the past three seasons. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, thrills and disappointments.

Head coach Jason King hopes to start another upswing this season with his team that features experience on the pitcher's mound. A large group juniors and sophomores will be led by just two seniors when the Eagles take the field for their first game.

"We only have two seniors, but we have experience," King said. "Our junior group and even some of our sophomores have played a lot of innings on the varsity level."

Reed Howell returns for his junior season and will likely be the Eagles' opening-day starter on the bump. When he is not pitching, Howell will man one of the middle infield positions.

John Winslow would also have spent time on the mound, but the senior has decided not to play baseball this season. Winslow would have been in the middle of the Eagles' batting order as well.

"John would have probably been that second guy that we looked to too eat up innings," King said. "He will be missed, but his absence creates space on the pitcher's mound for some of our young guys."

Jordan Gourley will likely be the Eagles' second starter. The sophomore has been impressive early in the team's workouts.

Khalil Owens, another sophomore, is challenging for the clean-up spot in the batting order and a position in the Rosewood outfield. Owens has also spent time on the pitcher's mound during practice.

Rosewood will be young around the infield with players fitting in spots that they may or may not have played in the past. One benefit the Eagles do have is familiarity. Several of the players on the Rosewood roster have spent years playing together playing in youth leagues and at the middle school level.

"That is the good news," King said. "All of these guys know each other and they work well together. By the time they get to the varsity, they pretty much know what positions they can play and what role they are going to fill."

Rosewood finished 7-16 overall in 2012. The Eagles went 3-7 in Carolina 1-A Conference play. Several of the teams in the league lost large senior classes after last season which should help the Eagles move up in the conference ranks.

"I think there are a lot of unknowns in the conference this season," King said. "Some of the teams that were at the top last season lost a lot to graduation, so it's kind of wide open."

The Eagles will opened the season Thursday afternoon at county rival Charles B. Aycock.

"Obviously that will be a stiff test right out of the gate," King said. "C.B. Aycock is a great program, they are well coached and they play the game the right way. Win or lose, it is good for our guys to see how they do things as a program."