Patriots look stronger all around


The Carroll Christian Patriots have added a little bit of everything this season to their baseball team.

There's a surplus of speed to roam the bases, depth on the pitching mound, more balance throughout the lineup and improved range on defense.

This all comes after a 10-5 season in 1994, leaving coach Randy Peterson optimistic for further improvement.

"The key is going to be our pitching," Peterson said. "I think we're going to score some runs, and the defense is much better than last year. We're going to need to get more consistency with our pitching and cut down on walks."

Most of the pitching chores will be handled by returnees Casey Davis and Matt Good, along with lefty newcomer John Brunson. Peterson said all three don't have overpowering stuff, but each has good control. All he's asking from his pitchers is to make the hitters put the ball in play.

"I think our defense is good enough to cut off some grounders that would have went through last year. We're a lot quicker," Peterson said. "We're more solid, particularly in the infield, and that should be our biggest improvement, along with team speed."

When Davis isn't on the mound, he'll be at short and provides Peterson with a solid leadoff hitter. Last year, he hit .540 and also had a reliable glove.

"He hits a lot of line drives, gets extra-base hits with his speed and can steal a base," Peterson said. "He's just a smart player who provides great defense and knows what he has to do."

Peterson said Mark Elbam and Jeremy Rodriguez will share time at third. Both newcomers are good fielders with strong arms.

Sam Lieb is another newcomer who provides a lot of the speed and quickness at second.

Returning at first is Chris Darling, a good target who also can get on base. He'll be backed up by Tim Gries.

The catching duty will belong to newcomer Wes Day, who will hit either fourth or fifth.

Good will join Day in the middle of the lineup and play in center when he's not pitching. He led the team with four homers last season. Ben Lieb hit .370 in left field last season and is another steady run producer.

Steve Rill, Brian Mitchell and Paul Albaugh will share right field. Nathan Russell can catch.

The Patriots have shown they can come from behind with their 11-6 win over Chapelgate in their opener Tuesday. The Patriots tied the game with a four-run fifth inning then put it out of reach with five more in the sixth. Good pitched the final four innings to get the win and hit a bases-loaded double in the sixth. Davis also had three hits.

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