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March 5, 2013

Speed, defense characterize baseball team

CHICKASHA — With a roster full of players with previous varsity experience, the Chickasha High School baseball team can build on last season by continuing the same style of play and the same mentality.

“I think that will be more our M.O., moving people around and having to lay down some bunts,” head coach Brad Gore said.

Chickasha hit with power in its first game of the season against Lawton, but in the second game, the Fightin’ Chicks blew out Elgin by just putting the ball in play and using good judgment on the base paths.

“I thought the guys did an excellent job [Monday] putting down some really tough ones,” Gore said. ”Some of them were [Elgin players] were out of position, but a lot of them were really nice bunts.

“We’ve just got to manufacture our runs like we did today and cause havoc, and that’s going to kind of be our team,” Gore said.

Lacking some in the area of power hitting, Chickasha won’t always be a team that scores a lot of runs, so pitching and defense will be expected to win some games for the team.

The Fightin’ Chicks’ main pitching rotation includes Lane Smith, Cade Morris and Blake Burns, all of whom started multiple games last season.

“We’ve got a little more depth on the mound this year, and I think Lane, Cade and Blake have all grown up a little bit on the mound,” Gore said. “They haven’t pitched that much, so I’m really excited about the pitching staff if we can keep pounding the zone.”

Chickasha also has some less-experienced reserve pitchers. Ryker Steelman saw action in several different roles last season, and Mario Medina began playing with the varsity over the summer.

“We’ve got kind of a mix of guys, Mario Medina and Ryker Steelman, and then we’ve got some young guys that can throw a little bit,” Gore said.

One of those guys is Denver Calhoun, whose primary position is catcher, but is spending some time as a pitcher in junior varsity games early in the season.

“We have some guys that can throw a little bit but they haven’t seen any varsity action,” Gore said. “Denver has a really good arm. He’s more of a catcher, but he’s got such a good arm we’re going to use him on the hill.”

Chickasha lost some key players to graduation, such as starters Derek Stephens, Jon Mitchell, Landon Thomas and Zach Ervin.

Tresjon Davis has taken over for Thomas as the starting catcher, after playing as a designated hitter last year. Derek Sullivan, who alternated as the starter at third base with Stephens last year, is now the full-time starter.

Hayden Johnson took Mitchell’s place in right field, and Morris is playing shortstop in place of Ervin.

Chickasha has started this season 2-0. The Fightin’ Chicks finished last season 21-11, ending with a disappointing upset loss to Altus in the regional playoffs at home.

The Fightin’ Chicks will next play at 5 p.m. Friday at home against the Del City Eagles.

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