Bryan County High School got the 2014 baseball season off to a rousing start Thursday, topping Claxton 14-7 in a nonregion matchup at Redskin Field.
Kyle Koskela got the win for BCHS, finishing up on the mound for Dillon Pittman and Nathan Leggett.
At the plate, Pittman was 3-for-3, Koskela was 2-for-2 and Brett Bacon drove in two runs to pace BCHS, which had 10 hits in its opener under second-year coach Mark Wilson.
The Redskins are coming off a 12-13 season, the most wins for BCHS since the 2009 squad put together a 14-13 mark.
Wilson, a former college baseball player at Georgia Southwestern who also serves as athletic director and head football coach at BCHS, is trying to turn around a once-proud program that had fallen on hard times in recent years at the same time it moved up to Class AA and baseball-rich Region 2-AA.
He’s doing it with a team that includes seniors White, Koskela, Pittman, Dalton Raulerson and Chase Cromer and sophomore Nathan Leggett. Last season, the Redskins were in the hunt for a playoff spot until the last week of the season. This season, the Redskins could break through.
“We’re still young in some spots so we’re going to have to see what we have got early,” Wilson said. “Our kids played well against Claxton, but we’ve still got some things we’ve got to work on — just a few mental mistakes here and there. But the kids played hard and they put the ball in play, so that was big for us.”
One sign the Redskins could continue to improve in 2014 was they fell behind to the Tigers, a former Region 3-A rival.
“We went ahead and got behind and were able to come back, and in the past hadn’t done that much,” Wilson said.
White is a catcher and was among the team’s offensive leaders last season. Pittman was the team’s ace last year and as well as one of the Redskins’ top hitters, while Leggett was the team’s No. 2 pitcher as a freshman and also swung a solid bat. Koskela was also among the team’s top players, and along with Cromer and Raulerson should help provide leadership.
“We’re expecting some big things out of those guys,” Wilson said.
Despite improvement, the Redskins will be competing in a region loaded with power. Benedictine went 30-6 in 2013 and went to the state Class AA semifinals under Chain baseball founder Kevin Farmer, who returns a lot of talent and finds plenty more.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jeff Davis was 21-11 and made it to the Elite Eight last season and Toombs County was 18-9 and advanced to the third round of the state playoffs as well.
“This region is pretty good,” Wilson said.