BOAZ – Snead State's baseball team will open the 2014 season in Douglasville, Ga., Saturday against West Georgia Tech.
Despite losing five position starters and four heavily used pitchers, Snead State's new team is full of talented newcomers and returners. Eight of the nine 2013 sophomores earned a baseball scholarship to finish out their college careers playing baseball.
"We have a couple of goals for this season. We want to continue to do as well academically as we did in the fall. We want to be an Academic All-American team," said Coach Ledbetter, who's entering his 22nd season as head coach of the Snead State baseball team. "We want to go back to the playoffs for the third year in a row, and we want to continue to move our sophomores to the next level. We had a lot of success last year, and we want to continue to build on that."
The 2013 season proved to be a remarkable one for the Parsons and one for the history books. Snead State broke the record for the most wins in a season and in its best showing ever, six players filled 14 spots on All-Conference teams.
Snead State welcomes back five starters and six returning pitchers.
Jakob Kirkwood (INF, Cullman), Brett Burgess (OF, Centre), Tyler LeCroy (C, West Palm Beach, Fla.), Jesse Thomas (INF, Cullman), and Andrew Tetrault (INF, Kennesaw, Ga.) are all returning starters for the Parsons.
Returning pictures include Reed Bright (Helena), David Collins (Atlanta, Ga.), Ryan McNaughton (Tallassee), Colton Clifton (Gadsden), Austin Dickie (Oneonta) and Caleb Roberts (East Limestone).
"I am expecting our returning players to be leaders for our team and to work with our coaching staff to show the rest of the team how to win," said Coach Ledbetter. "I'm also expecting a lot of impact to come from sophomore pitchers Landon Smith (Pell City) and Chris Kilpatrick (Cordova). Zac Dugas (Mandabelle, La.) is another player to watch out for."
Three sophomores signed early letters of intent back in the fall.
Right-hander Reed Bright signed with the University of West Florida. Bright, a Pelham graduate, finished 4-3 with a 3.8 ERA last season for the Parsons. He recorded 50 strikeouts. Bright was also named to the All-North Second Team for outfielders and received Golden Glove honors.
University of West Alabama transfer Chris Kilpatrick will be joining the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Kilpatrick is a graduate of Cordova High School. Right-handed pitcher and catcher David Collins, a South Cobb High School graduate, will continue his career at Martin Methodist College in Tennessee.
"We're excited to get the season started. We're expecting a good year," said Coach Ledbetter. "We're looking for our team to improve and mature. We have a young team in positions. Our freshmen are seeing playing time right away and getting the help and feedback they need right away as well.
"We're playing one game at a time. We're excited for our tournament at Pensacola State and for our conference games. As excited as we are to perform on the field, we are more excited about the academic accomplishments of the team."
The team posted a 3.1 grade point average for the fall semester, and all returning sophomores are on schedule to graduate.
The Parsons have a seven-series home stretch in February. On Feb. 10, Snead State welcomes Martin Methodist; Feb. 12 – Bryan College; Feb. 15 – West Georgia Tech; Feb. 18 Shorter College; and Feb. 20 – Enterprise State (1 p.m.); Feb. 23 – Wabash College. All games begin at noon. Conference season will kick off for the Parsons on Feb. 28 when Wallace Hanceville travels to Snead State for a 12 p.m. game.
The team's coaching staff includes Ledbetter and Assistant Coaches Casey Underwood, Jerry Wayne Hallmark and David Russo.