Seymour baseball team aims higher in 2014

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 05:37 PM

 Baseball in Seymour is a game of tiny increments.

So close to the region tournament year after year, the Eagles don’t need much more to advance.

“We’ve been in AAA four years,” said Seymour coach Scott Norman. “We’ve won the conference once. We’ve finished third three times. We’ve got to find a way to win one more game. I think we’re playing as well as we can play under the structure that we play. We’ve got to figure out a way to generate another run or two a game.”

Norman’s club was a couple innings away from advancing out of the district semifinals in 2013, but an eventual loss to Sevier County knocked Seymour from the postseason. Luckily for the Eagles, an offseason spent fine-tuning swings in a brand-new indoor facility may give them the runs they need to get back into the district’s top two.

“We’ve been down there every single day since last year,” said senior Cade Snapp. “I can tell a big difference in my swing and stuff like that. It’s awesome.”

Snapp, a catcher who has drawn interest from several colleges, will be part of Seymour’s core in 2014 that includes six starters from 2013. Gunner Gibson returns on the mound where he was 5-1 last year. Classmate Larry Kennedy, a Carson-Newman football signee, is also back at shortstop. Both Hunter Longmire and Douglas Maples are hoping to build on strong 2013s. Longmire was 4-1 with two saves on the mound last year while Maples hit .365. 

Bryce Catlet, who Norman expects to have a breakout season, will join Maples in the outfield and is also a catcher. Norman said another returner in the outfield, senior Daniel Widner, is among the team’s hardest workers.

That group will be boosted by some young talent, including sophomore pitchers Kendall Catlet and Devin Davenport. Norman said Andrew Escalona has a bright future at third base and Dylan Cassidy, a sophomore transfer from Sevier County, will be a tough hitter to get out with a little work.

Those 10 regulars have proven they can hit the ball in large part thanks to all that indoor work. The preseason issue has been on the pitching side.

“It seems like with this new indoor facility, a lot of our offseason has been hitting,” Norman said. “… (Throwing strikes) is usually one of our strengths. In our preseason scrimmages we’re walking way too many hitters.”

Gibson, who just came out of basketball, said it may take a week or two for his arm to get up to speed. Like all that hitting practice, the pitchers just need to put in the time. Norman said he had his team do an hour of bullpens earlier this week.

When that pitching shapes up, maybe Seymour can get the one more win it needs to advance.

“It seems like every year there’s just one pitch that we can’t get by,” Kennedy said. “I’m excited about this year, definitely.”