By Chris Parsons
Five teams finished with winning records in the 13th region last season, unfortunately the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets were not one of them.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if not for a stretch where Williamsburg lost nine straight, John Mountjoy’s team could have been one of those winning team, but instead finished with a 15-21 mark overall.
The Yellow Jackets played even against 13th Region foes, compiling a 12-12 mark, but only went 1-7 against 50th District competition with its lone win coming in a 20-7 romping of Whitley County. Mountjoy’s squad was eliminated in the first round of the district tournament, thanks to a 10-0 loss to South Laurel.
As far as improving his team’s mark against district and regional foes this season, Mountjoy said the jury is still out. Despite a group of young players, the third-year coach said he does expect his team to at least be competitive against those teams.
“Thanks to the size of our school, we’re always going to be a young team,” Mountjoy said. “When you’re competing against the teams that we play against, that’s what we’re faced with, but we have to come out and play the games.
“I don’t expect our kids to come out and run-rule teams like South and North Laurel, or even Corbin and Whitley County, but I expect our kids to come out and be competitive,” he added.
Mountjoy’s infield will most likely be a strength for the Yellow Jackets this season, with a plethora of experience at most of the positions. He said catcher Micah Purdie would most likely be the leader when he’s on the field.
“Our catcher has been our starter since he was in the eighth grade, so we expect a lot out of him and what he brings as far as leadership and ability,” Mountjoy said. “As far as out infield, we have a lot of guys that can play several positions. Given that, we’re apt to move them around on an as-needed basis.
“It goes back to our size, with 19 kids that are out this season,” he added. “We have to get kids to play where we can and use the ones that are able to give us some versatility.”
Mountjoy said his outfield is a lot like his infield, with a group of kids who will play different positions from time-to-time. Looking at Williamsburg’s roster, all but six players are listed as outfielders in their positions played. With that said, Mountjoy said they would have to battle for playing time from time-to-time.
When it comes to any baseball team, the position that can make or break a team’s season is pitcher. Just like any other position, Mountjoy said he would platoon a large group of kids who will hopefully battle each other in an effort to improve.
“In a perfect world, we have a few kids that do nothing but pitch for us on a rotation,” he said. “But what it will come down to is that if you have the arm to get the ball across the infield when you’re out there, most likely we’ll be looking to you to pitch eventually.
“Our kids know that though and they know what we expect out of them,” he added. “Hopefully, with a group like this, you’ll have some friendly competition and that will lead to some of these kids wanting to come out and one-up their buddy if he happened to have a good outing the day before.”
Of the 33 games on the schedule this season, only eight of them are against teams outside of the 13th Region. Mountjoy said with the schedule the way it is, he hopes to ready for postseason play by season’s end.
“Like I said, we want to come out and compete in our district and region,” he said. “If we do that, I feel like we can have a good season and do some good things.”