By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The young team on the District 13-3A block this season will be the Brighton Cardinals.
The two teams to reach Regionals last season from the district were the Munford Cougars and Dyer County Choctaws. And the Hardin County Tigers are primed to make a move for a top spot in the league.
So the verdict on Brighton Head Coach Michael Wickersham’s squad is they are young. Brighton’s projected lineup for opening day will feature one senior as a position player with Dyersburg signee LaDarius Williams.
No matter who is in the batting order or on the mound, Coach Wick said he has been working on his squad’s approach at the plate.
“We’re working on a new hitting philosophy,” he said. “In two preseason games, we’ve had 31 hits. Out of those 31 hits, we’ve had 7 doubles, 2 triples. They’re starting to pick up the pace a little bit and being more aggressive.
“We’re not a power hitting team,” Wick added. “We’re going to be more of a gap to gap kind of team. We’re going to fight for every 90 feet we can possibly get.”
In the batting order Williams will likely hit in the third spot. Ahead of him in the lineup will be TJ Klutts and Eli Davis.
“We’re really trying to protect “Dee” because we’ll have somebody in front of his who can get on and not we’ve got somebody behind him in Matthew Smith,” he said. “He’s a junior outfielder and he’ll hit in the four hole.”
Wickersham said if his speedy top of the lineup is hitting at a high average, the Cardinals can be in position to make a run for success.
Pitchingwise, names like Williams, Davis, Chase Kidd and Matthew Jacome will see a lot of innings and try to protect any lead built by the Cardinals.
Kidd will be the senior leader of the rotation and a likely district pitcher for Brighton. With so many underclassmen taking on key roles and positions, Wickersham said only thing will help his team heading toward May.
“Innings, innings and more innings,” he said. “Just playing, they’ve got to learn how to play with one another. We’re going to start one senior as a position player right now. We’ve got one senior who starts. We’re definitely young.
“As you see from that schedule, I’m not going to play a light schedule,” he added. “I want them to play a heavy schedule from the time they get here as a freshman until they graduate. So they can be in those situations all the time.”
Taking on several powerhouse teams around the South, Wichersham said can only help his team when it’s time to play Dyer County, Munford and Hardin County.
“We kind of like being the underdog,” he said. “We like being the team that could sneak up on some folks. We did that some last year sneaking up on some folks. We had 12 one-run games and loss 8 of them.
“Being able to win those one-run games comes from being able to play together,” Coach Wick concluded, “and knowing the situation and being comfortable so it doesn’t seem like the game is going too fast. We’re going into that direction right now. I’m very pleased with how we done this spring.”