Last spring produced positive results for the Apalachee High School baseball team.
The Diamond Cats posted a program best 13 victories. AHS returns a solid nucleus from that team, but coach Mike Cavey knows wins won’t come easy this spring. The reason is simple. The Wildcats compete in Region 8-AAAAA, one of the toughest in the state, regardless of classifications.
“Our pitching staff will have to come up big,” Cavey said. “We will have to score a lot of runs as well. There is pressure to perform and do well when you compete in this region. It takes talent and hard-nosed players to succeed and win.”
Competing in the same region with Loganville, Winder-Barrow and Gainesville, is a daunting task, Cavey said. Other teams are also expected to have quality seasons. With the top four advancing directly to state, the AHS coach knows a big challenge is in front of his squad.
“Loganville, Gainesville and Winder-Barrow will be at the top of the pack, but I think we can compete with them,” Cavey said. “
We have to play the other region teams well and then try to steal a win here or there against the top teams.”
Cavey will look to a group of six seniors to lead AHS this spring.
Clint Ashe, Tony Salvaggio, Eric Morgan, Mason Webb, Steven Adair and Austin Miller have all been in the program several years.
“They should be able to give us the necessary leadership and calmness,” Cavey said. “Most have been in the program since they were in the eighth grade. We are looking for consistency this year and they should help give it to us.”
The Wildcats are set to host Morgan County Thursday, weather permitting, in a preseason scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. The regular season opener is set for Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Central Gwinnett. The team will also play at Duluth Feb. 22.
AHS opens region play March 15 against Heritage. Games against 8-AAAAA will be back-to-back. Nine teams are in the region this spring.
“I like playing region teams back-to-back,” Cavey said. “It keeps you from seeing a team’s No. 1 pitcher both times you play. At times you will face a team’s No. 2 pitcher or even No. 3. It forces you to have pitching depth to do well. It also helps set you up for the best-of-three series if you get to state.”
The first home game for 2013 is Feb. 25 against Mountain View.