Corbin’s Cameron Combs committed to further his academic and baseball careers at Bellarmine University of Sunday. Combs, who will be a senior this upcoming school year at Corbin, turned in a stellar junior season as a Redhound. He helped guide Corbin to a 13th Region title while leading the team with a .482 batting average. He also had 53 hits, 46 RBI, eight home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 22 runs scored, and four stolen bases. | File Photo

CORBIN — Cody Philpot’s Corbin Redhounds reclaimed the 13th Region title last season, and are the preseason pick to repeat as region champs after returning most of their nucleus from last season’s 26-13 record.

“We return eight guys that have experience in a starting role,” he said. “Quite a few of those guys have seen starts for multiple years. We are much more experienced than we have been the last few years.

“We have a lot of work to do but if we progress throughout the season I think we’ll be in the thick of things when it matters,” he added. “Cameron Combs, Jacob Baker, Walker Landrum and Kade Elam were our top batters last year and are looking to improve on their outputs from last season. Mikey Neal, Bradric Helton, Cam Estep and Jeremiah Gilbert have all put in a lot of work to try and push our offense over the top. There are several others that are competing every day that may be the difference in us winning and losing later in the season.”

Philpot’s squad also possesses some of the best pitchers in the region.

“Jeremiah Gilbert, Bradric Helton and Cruz Cima all threw in a lot of big games last year and had a lot of success,” he said. “All three guys locate well and have a few pitches that they can throw in any count. They look to lead our staff this year as some newcomers look to fill in some very vital roles in the middle of our rotation.”

With the abundance of talent returning, many believe Corbin will be the favorite once again to win the 50th District and 13th Region crowns.

“I think we can be in the hunt,” Philpot said. “As always, I think the 50th District is one of the deepest in the region. We’ll have to play well to win ball games.

“That’s the goal (to win the region), and what our kids have worked for since last season ended,” he added. “We have to take care of us, throw strikes, make the routine plays and not beat ourselves.

Whitley returns a lot from a team that has had a lot of success the last few years, Clay County, and North Laurel are always tough and have some big arms that can beat anyone on a given day. Physically, we have the tools, but baseball is a difficult game at times and only the mentally tough can make it through in the postseason.”

And speaking of tough, go no further than Corbin’s schedule. Philpot once again has his Redhounds going up against some of the best teams in the area and state.

“It’s tough — the toughest I’ve ever put together and we’re excited about it,” Philpot said. “We are going to be challenged early and often, and shouldn’t be surprised by anything we see by later in the season.”

Philpot believes the key to success for his team is to continue to improve as the season progresses.

“Normal practice time is very limited once baseball season starts, so the teams that can learn from what they see and the situations they’re put in from game to game are the ones that end up being successful,” he said. “We have a group that loves to work and are striving to meet some lofty goals this season. If you spend much time around them they might just make you believe it’s possible.

“We’re very thankful for the support we get from our community, administrators and board members,” Philpot added. “The program is moving in an exciting direction, facilities are being upgraded and there is a buzz around the program. That’s made possible by a lot of support, and a group of kids that work hard to make their community proud. Corbin is one the greatest high school sports towns in America.”

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