2014 KENTUCKY STANDARD BASEBALL PREVIEW: Generals already outpacing last year

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By Darren George

Although the first varsity campaign from a year ago rendered only one win, Thomas Nelson is running the bases with high emotions and expectations, as the diamond looks to shine bright on the Generals baseball team this season.

Thomas Nelson (3-4) has already tripled its overall wins from last season, and the Generals began this year by winning three out of their first four contests.

“We want to make some noise in our district and even in the region,” Generals second-year head coach Brian Coffman said. “We have some high expectations and our team goal is ‘Refuse to Lose,’ so I think with our returning experience, we may surprise some teams.”

The Generals are returning several starters, including hard-thrower Logan Unseld, who is set to lead his club from the mound along with Eli Clark, who was outstanding over nine innings in an extra-inning loss to Bardstown in last year’s district tournament.

“We have already started better than we did last year,” Unseld said. “We must stay positive and play well on defense, but we are still developing. Our hitting is coming along, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and staying focused this year.”

Thomas Nelson has shown a solid infield so far, with junior catcher Bradley Nance and senior first baseman Jacob Norton showing leadership.

“We must improve every game and get better,” Norton said. “We must practice hard, and hopefully we can accomplish what we are wanting to do out there.”

Coffman expects Nance to perform well behind the dish, and says his arm is stronger this year as he picked up a lot of strength during the off-season.

The Generals are looking to steal a few wins as well. The team’s speed will play a major role on the base paths.

“We have plenty of speed this season, that’s for sure,” Coffman said. “We are looking to run on every play when we have runners on base, and that is something we didn’t have a lot of last year.”

Thomas Nelson has gained experience and poise since their first inaugural season, and will be returning much of that cohesive play in the outfield.

Juniors Clay Druin and Austin Martinez will be patrolling on the outfield grass, along with seniors Stephen Price, Zach Johnson and Gage Tedford.

The infield will feature players such as Cameron Morgeson, Eli Clark, Blake Madsen and Casel Billings.

“We had a good preseason, and I want our kids to get a taste of what it is like to win some games,” Coffman said. “I believe that will go a long way with their mental attitudes and we must refuse to lose.”

Thomas Nelson went 1-33 last season, and picked up their lone win against Hart County in a 3-1 decision.

The Generals are already in full stride, and ready to compete in the 19th District and 5th Region.

“Our pitching will also be a key to the season,” Coffman said. “We want the teams we play to hit the ball, as we have confidence in our defense and you’re going to have to hit it to beat us. We want our kids to have fun, and our hitting is coming around, so I think we have a good balanced mix of talent this year.”

The Generals visit Bethlehem for both teams’ district opener today at 5:30 p.m.