BIGGERSVILLE, MANTACHIE HOPE TO BUILD ON ’95 SUCCESS
By Todd Vinyard
After a ground breaking season last year Class 1A will head back to the future this year.
The East Union Urchins advanced to the state title series for the first time since 1975 last season, but have moved up and will now compete in the Division 2-2A wars. That leaves 1A names of the past like Biggersville, Mantachie, Ingomar, East Webster and Hamilton to duke it out for the title.
Biggersville coach Jacky Rowsey knows his 1A history since his teams have created quite a bit of it, including a state title in 1994.
“Everybody looks improved,” Rowsey said. “Especially in 1-1A, you have Pine Grove and Mantachie looking strong. Tremont gets better and better. And Thrasher, Wheeler and Jumpertown are right there.
“I just hope we can get the pitching and defense to be up there with everybody,” he added.
Rowsey’s nephew Daniel should provide the Lions plenty of pitching. Last year he was 12-3. As a team Biggersville finished 22-14 before losing to East Webster in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Daniel is the ace of our staff and a real leader,” Rowsey said.
Replacing five-year starting catcher Barry Nash is one of Rowsey’s top priorities. Senior Scott Nash and sophomore Micky Shaw are the top candidates.
Pine Grove coach Frank Campbell knows all about the replacement game. The Panthers lost seven starters off last season’s 21-9 playoff squad. Campbell also will have to build a pitching staff after losing all four starters.
“We really need some young people to step up this year and play,” Campbell said. “We were not sure what we had until we played Walnut last Saturday. Even though we lost 4-3 there were some things to build on.”
One of those young players may be eighth grade third baseman Justin Hodges. There are a few Pine Grove veterans, though, like junior left-handed pitcher Randy Wright and senior first baseman Chris Shinall.
Mantachie coach Michael Nanney is hoping a core group of four seniors Shane West, Pat Thompson, Dustin Jones and Matt Fennell will help offset the loss of the team’s leading hitter Steven Lindsey (.390 batting average).
“We’re like everybody else: If we play good, smart baseball we will do well,” Nanney said.
Hamilton’s Lions are looking to stay on the 3-1A prowl this year. But they will face playoff tested East Webster and Vardaman, along with Smithville, Houlka and West Clay.
Division 2-1A features Falkner, Walnut, Blue Mountain, Hickory Flat, Myrtle, West Union and Ingomar.
To the south in 4-1A Weir heads a field which includes Alexander, Sturgis, Noxapater, and Nanih Waiya.