The Stratford Knights have unpacked their bat bags and removed their cleats and gloves. It’s baseball season on Crowfield Boulevard.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to return to the field this year after having last season cut short (COVID-19),” Stratford coach Brandon Beckman said. “We’re excited to see what this team will bring to the field. We know this year will be tough. Our region is always tough. We will need to be mentally tough to compete and give ourselves a chance at being one of the top two teams to make the playoffs.”
But the Knights have nine seniors, including Clemson signee Josh Davis on the bump and infield and stellar student-athlete Nick Lott at second base.
Lott will be one of the school’s top graduates later this spring.
“He is a hard worker both on the field and in the classroom,” Beckman said. “He’s in position to, potentially, be the valedictorian of this year’s senior class which speaks volumes to his character.“
More seniors Beckman is looking to step up this season are OF Jace McQuillan, 1B/OF Mason Swoyer, OF Austin Kling, 3B Mason Lord, OF Brian Albright, OF/P Cade Brunson and OF/P Logan Onorato.
“This team competes and is willing to play team baseball,” Beckman said. “They understand that personal stats may not always be the best but if the team wins that is what matters most. They are also a team that is willing to put in the work and the extra time. Every day after practice we have guys that choose to stay to get extra reps in the cage. They lift hard and are trying to give themselves the best opportunity to be successful.”
Davis has been in the rotation since the eighth grade and gives the Knights an arm for big games. He’s fanned 96 batters with 27 walks in around 120 career innings pitched. Last season, when the Knights finished 2-3, Davis was 1-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average. As a sophomore, Davis posted a 5-3 mark with a 1.18 ERA in nine starts. As a freshman, he was 2-3 with a 0.94 ERA in six starts. He fashioned a 1.87 ERA as an eighth grader.
“Josh is a pitcher who is mentally tough and throws strikes,” Beckman said. “He limits the number of stress pitches he has to make by being in the zone and getting ahead. He doesn’t give up free bases and gives us a chance to play behind him.”
The Knights have several guys who will need to prove they can compete on the mound. With Stratford playing only five games last season, a lot are lacking game experience.
Junior Jackson Blass will take the hill for Stratford along with Davis, junior Bryce Robinson and freshman Greer. Juniors Thomas Kistler and Brian Granger and sophomore Chris Garner will see time in relief. Other players who will receive an opportunity on the mound will be Lott, junior Thomas Purcell and senior Cade Brunson.
Purcell and junior Cody Lord are on the other end of the battery.
The Knights will be young in some spots but the young guys have a ton of potential, Beckman said. Sophomore Brett Marrs is a sophomore first baseman and Greer will see time on the infield, too. Robinson and fellow junior Aaron Clopton are expected to play in the outfield.
“Robinson is a kid we are really proud of for the way he is working to get better each day,” Beckman said.