Flashes muscle up for 2009|Prep baseball

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009

The best teams always learn something from their losses, and St. Aloysius is no exception.

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After getting routed in the Class 1A quarterfinals last season by a bigger, stronger East Webster team, the Flashes set out to emulate their foes. They spent a good chunk of the offseason in the weight room.

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The result has been a stronger team that’s brimming with confidence as it tries to make the leap from contender to championship favorite. The Flashes return every starter from last year’s squad, which went 23-7 and won two playoff series before being outscored 21-4 in two games by East Webster.

“A lot of guys that didn’t play football worked hard in the summer and fall. That’s helped out a lot,” junior pitcher Ryno Martin-Nez said. “You can see it in our hitting right now. Everybody’s strength has gone up. We’re a whole, complete team now.”

Besides getting stronger, the Flashes are also benefiting from yet another year of experience. Most of the players in the starting lineup have been there since they were in seventh or eighth grade. There are only three seniors on the entire roster — Sean Weaver, Joseph Brown and Corey Jones.

Weaver is entering his fifth year as a starter at catcher, while Brown is in his third as a pitcher and first baseman. Jones was cut from the team the last two years, but St. Al coach Clint Wilkerson expects him to contribute both with his bat and in the pitching rotation.

St. Al also returns its two best pitchers, juniors Martin-Nez and Stephen Evans. They went a combined 16-5 last season, and both had ERAs under 2.25. Brown, the team’s No. 3 pitcher, was 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA.

“We’ve got more arms in the bullpen than we’ve ever had,” Wilkerson said. “It’s going to help tremendously. We have a very tough schedule, and we’re going to have to have a staff for us to win in district and out of it.”

Winning in the regular season hasn’t been a problem for the Flashes. It was winning in the playoffs that gave them fits. They finally broke through last season, beating Bogue Chitto and Ethel before losing to East Webster. Now, with so many of their young players finally maturing, there’s a sense that the Flashes’ time is coming.

“We’re a lot more focused,” Weaver said. “We’ve always been hungry, but it seems like this year we want it.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com.