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baseball-preview09-2-28.jpgSo many new faces.Similar to his first year coaching football, Sedona Red Rock High first-year Manager Brian Batty will have a mostly inexperienced crop of baseball players to grow for the future.

By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers

So many new faces.

Similar to his first year coaching football, Sedona Red Rock High first-year Manager Brian Batty will have a mostly inexperienced crop of baseball players to grow for the future.

Batty took over as skipper for Anthony Lo Duca just before winter break. Batty has experience coaching freshman baseball at Peoria High.

Batty was bequeathed with only six returning players.

Even those numbers are deceivingly low.

Junior Bret Clawson will be out for the season after suffering a leg injury. Jon Ty Knox and Mike Karp were freshmen last year. Only seniors Chris Keightly-Murcko and Lloyd Coker and junior Andrew Castillo-Cockrum return as upperclassmen. Coker is only allowed to be the designated hitter after having Tommy John [elbow] surgery in the offseason.

Sedona lost four of its top five players in their lineup to graduation and four of its top five pitchers from last season.

Tommy Wyatt led off last season, hit over 400, stole bases and played stellar defense at shortstop. Joe Strong also hit over 400, pitched late in the year and was one of the better catchers in the region. Jose Esquer was the team?s closer, hard-nosed third baseman and often occupied the clean-up spot in the lineup. Adam Edwards was the No. 2 pitcher and second baseman. Jarret Jensen started in center. Coker was the ace of the staff in 2006. He won?t throw this season.

Sammy Holeyfield and Chris Kamas will not return in 2007.

This year, Batty will have six freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and three seniors. Two of his six upperclassmen and one sophomore have not played high school baseball before, giving SRRHS only seven players with high school experience. Five players on the roster are new to the game.

Fall 2006, here we go again.

?It?s just a weird year at the school,? Batty said.

Like in football last fall, the youthful and impressionable roster gives Batty an opportunity to mold while also beginning the construction of the program?s foundation.

?We are going to try and get the work ethic and fundamentals,? Batty said.

The players won?t be underdogs. They?ll be junkyard dogs.

?We are going to be tough and bite down,? Batty said.

Castillo-Cockrum will be the team?s catcher.

?He?s a good little receiver,? Batty said.

Mike Karp appears to be the No. 1 starter. The left-hander has natural movement on the ball and may be the team?s best overall player. Karp could play in the outfield and may get time at first base. Ty Knox could hold down shortstop while Keightly-Murcko could be the team?s third baseman.

All position titles are attached with tentative modifiers.

Pedro Ortega, Josh Di Biasi and J.P. Laws are all new players who could rotate between the mound, center field and shortstop.

Batty will wait to see who earns their time and position.

Batty is set on one thing. Coker isn?t going to pitch.

The former ace underwent elbow surgery four months ago to remove a tendon in his foreman to fortify his elbow. Coker has an extra tendon in his elbow and only one in his forearm.

He could come back throwing harder. Coker wants to pitch in college.

?I am just going to be hitting and keeping the arm healthy,? Batty said.

While Coker has a vision of a future at a school in Miami, he will remain a rock for the club this year.

?I have been playing the game 12 years, so I will do what I can to help put,? Coker said.

Coker will be the leader of the team while his father [an assistant] will combine with assistant coach Edwin Rivera as leaders behind Batty.

SRRHS traveled to Payson High on Tuesday, Feb. 27, though results were not available by press time.

The Scorpions will host Mingus Union High on Wednesday, Feb. 28.


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