Five starters returning for Ole Brook Panthers

Published 7:43 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Like all high school baseball coaches, Brookhaven’s Randy Springalways is looking for 5-tool players. They are blessed with hittingskills, power hitting, arm strength, speed and defensivetalent.

This season Spring has five starters returning for the Panthers.First baseman Zach Halliwell (.351), shortstop Gabe Wilson (.372),centerfielder Elliott McKee (.314), outfielder/pitcher BrandonFoster (.280) and outfielder Chris Seals (.451) will anchor thestarting nine. Brice Huckaby, who started two years ago in theoutfield, also returns.

Spring’s Panthers finished 20-8 last season and advanced to theClass 4A state playoffs. They were runners-up to Lawrence County inthe Division 6-4A race and lost to Long Beach in the openinground.

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Lost to graduation were infielder Bud Britt and pitcher/firstbaseman Nick Helmstetter, both all-state players. Also graduatedwere rightfielder Jarvis Wilbert, and third baseman Isaac Jones.Britt and Helmstetter both signed college scholarships, going toCo-Lin and Meridian respectively.

Catcher and 2-year starter Nick Peavey elected not to return forhis junior year and instead concentrate on football.

Foster, a southpaw, is the most experienced pitcher. Junior J.D.Britt will be counted on as a starter.

Foster fashioned a 7-3 record as a junior, compiling a 2.37 ERA.Britt posted a 4-2 mark and a 3.95 ERA.

Scottie Peavey is a junior transfer pitcher from BrookhavenAcademy. Senior Patrick Valentine, junior Dillon Newell andsophomore J.B. Perkins will be working on the mound, too.

“We should have good depth on the mound,” said Spring. “Weshould be solid defensively. We need some guys to step up and comethrough for us offensively. We have a couple of guys who havepotential.”

Newell and Perkins are battling for playing time as catchers. “Theyare young but they both have pretty good tools,” said Spring.

Spring, 39, enters his 11th year at the helm. His Panthers won aClass 4A state championship in 2004. His assistant coaches areDustin Lott, Brett Hicks and Eric Stokes.

Asked about the new Region 5-5A lineup, Spring said, “West Jones isthe team to beat. And McComb should be very solid with Zach Rowellon the mound. Forest Hill beat us last year.”

The Panthers play Mendenhall at 12:30 Saturday and Lawrence Countyat 5 p.m. in the LCHS Classic.