By Thomas Sellers Jr.
After an era of dominance in District 13-3A, Brighton Cardinal Head Coach Brian Oswalt had be patient the last two seasons.
Youth took over his program in 2011-12. But toward the end, the potential of his young Cardinals started to shine in the 2012 district tournament.
“Last year we were young,” he recalled. “I’d been playing mostly players who will be juniors this year since they were freshmen. They sort of remind me of some of my guys in the past.
“I’ve got six seniors now,” Oswalt added. “They’ve come a long ways from where they were at too. I think we will be a lot better. We have a lot tougher schedule this year. We were a couple of outs away from beating Hardin County last year. They ended up doing pretty well in the Region. I think we’ll be able to compete with some of these guys this year better than we have in the past.”
Oswalt said defending champs Dyer County also features a tough squad in the league. And Hardin County and Munford will be in position to reach Regionals.
“This year to get by these guys like Dyer County and Munford, we’re starting out the first game with Arlington,” Oswalt said. “Why not jump in head first if you’re going to jump in? From there we have Collierville. Then we’re playing in several good tournaments.”
After opening the season with the defending State champions, Brighton will travel across the Mid-South to play in the Best of the West, USA Classic and in Middle Tennessee at the Warrior Classic.
To take on this tough schedule Oswalt will call on arms like Jared Webb, Tanner McDivitt, Nate
Newman, Caleb Armour and transfer from Florida Tristian Blair.
“We have a big array of arms this year,” he noted. “Of course we have Colton Hatchcock. A lot of teams are looking at him already as a junior. I’ve had several calls on him. He’s going to be a really good player for me this year.
“I’ve got a lot of arms,” Oswalt added. “And the way the schedule is, I’m going to need them. So I’m happy with our pitching. And I’ve got Zane (Adams) coaching them up. So we’re wide open.”
The batting order will feature some of those arms and standouts like Matt Scott and Bentley Jones.
“I can mix and mingle this year,” Oswalt said. “I have an array of guys to where if I need someone to play third who just got off the mound, I can flip flop. There are so many ways I can set the lineup. They’re fighting for positions right now.”
The competition in practice is reminding Oswalt of the days when his Cardinals won back-to-back district titles. Players like Jeremy White, Joe Glass, Scott Doby and Jesse Brooks roamed the field.
Now the current edition of the Cardinals are ready to write their names in Brighton Baseball history.
“If everything comes along and if we hit, I think we can win some big games,” Oswalt concluded. “The weak point right now would be the hitting. The strong point would be pitching and defense. If I can come up with a Jesse Brooks type of guy, I’m hoping Hatchcock could be that guy.”