Rebels springing ahead: Gaylor, Maryville returns veterans up the middle
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jim Gaylor’s Maryville Rebels baseball team forgot about the abrupt ending to last season almost as quickly as it happened.
Maryville led Bearden 7-4 in the semifinal round of the District 4-AAA tournament a year ago. It was the bottom of the seventh. There were two outs.
But Bearden rallied, scoring four runs to turn what looked like a guaranteed berth in the region tournament as a district finalist for Maryville into a stunning, 8-7 season-ending loss for the Rebels, after having the opposition down its last out.
That was last year.
This, starting with Monday’s 6:30 p.m. season-opener at district-rival Heritage, is this year.
“We put that behind us a long time ago,” Gaylor told The Daily Times Wednesday. “We’re looking forward to the new season, new team, a lot of new players.
“It hasn’t even entered our minds. We were disappointed for a little while, then it was long gone.”
Also gone for Gaylor’s Rebels are guys like Jacob West, who held down third base a year ago and hit .364 with 28 RBIs and three home runs.
He signed with Lincoln Memorial.
Gone too is Dalton Curtis. He struck out 47 batters in 35 innings with a 1.62 ERA after coming back from a sore elbow halfway through the season. At the plate he hit .453 and drove in 19 runs. He signed with David Lipscomb.
But Maryville, after an 18-10 2012 season, which included an 8-0 start, has plenty of talent coming back. And the talent returns in the right places, too.
“The big part is we have the whole middle of our defense coming back,” Gaylor said. “Our catcher, Greg Jones, is back. Our shortstop and second baseman, Patrick Poteet and Ben Young, are back. Our centerfielder, Nick Reynolds, is back.
“That’s a good place to start with us.”
Those four, all seniors, will populate the top of the batting order, too, which should buy Gaylor some time in breaking in the newcomers.
“They’re important to our offense,” Gaylor said. “Those are our upper-lineup hitters, so that’s where our team strength is.
“We kind of talked about it (Wednesday), that group needs to carry us until some of our younger guys have learned the ropes, so to speak.”
On the mound, senior Daniel Raby returns after leading Maryville with 58 innings pitched a year ago.
“He had a solid year last year,” Gaylor said of Raby. “After that it’s going to be mostly guys that haven’t been tested on the varsity level. So that’s our biggest question mark for sure.”
Answers to those question marks will be Poteet, the senior shortstop who Gaylor said would “get his share of innings,” but added the senior shortstop hasn’t pitched of late.
Another senior, Baylee Delozier — “who pitched quite a bit last year,” Gaylor said — returns, as does Alex Curl, a tall lefthander who threw a no-hitter as a freshman in 2012.
Maryville will need to answer those questions and turn the newcomers into veterans quickly in an always tough District 4-AAA, where the Rebels will do battle with state powers Bearden and Farragut.
“Top to bottom it’s a really tough district, with the top as good as anybody around,” Gaylor said. “And the other guys are fighting to get into that group.”