Vikings making progress

Published 12:29 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By winning a division championship and leading Warren Central to its first winning season in four years, Josh Abraham has completed his first rebuilding effort.

Now, with the loss of eight seniors after Saturday’s Game 2, 7-1 loss to Madison Central, another one begins.

“What it means is we go back to work next week,” Abraham said as he bid goodbye to his seniors, who turned around a team that went 9-19 two years ago and 10-20 last year, into a 17-16 winner this season. They won the Division 4-6A title with a 7-2 record and won an opening-round playoff series for the first time since 2005.

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“Those seniors mean the world to me,” Abraham said. “I was so honored to coach them. But we will start work next week on building it back. The thing now is that these guys coming up believe in it. They know no mountain is too high. They know what it takes to become a champion.”

Some good pieces will return to aid in building the WC program. Shortstop Beau Wallace, third baseman Carlos Gonzalez, leftfielder Clayton Ashley and catcher Josh Stuckey are all slated to return next season.

Six senior starters, however, will be moving on. They include ace pitcher Jay Harper, No. 2 starter Colby Key, outfielders De Kelley and Dee White, second baseman Jimmie Elliott and first baseman Dylan Wooten. The team also loses senior reserves Kip Hull and Carter Kittrell.

Harper, who went 6-4 and had a 2.54 ERA, has signed with Hinds. White, who batted .340 and led the team in runs scored, said he is going to Hinds as well. Wooten, who led the team with 39 RBIs and hit. 368, should land somewhere. Key was solid all year with a .355 batting average and went 6-2 on the mound.

Madison Central (28-2) certainly came into the series with more big-name talent. Both of the Jaguars starting pitchers Brayden Jones and L.J. Hollins have signed with Mississippi State and Southern Miss, respectively. Right fielder Ryan Bolden, who had a solo home run Saturday, will decide between Ole Miss and the major league draft. Catcher Peyton Johnson and Josh Crowder, both of whom had home runs in the WC series, will be playing at least on the junior college level next year.

Madison Central coach Gregg Perry took notice of the job Abraham did.

“I want to make a point to say how much respect I have for Josh Abraham and his team. He got every ounce that he could out of that team,” Perry said.

Abraham said he is looking to do it again.

“We may not have the things the other big programs have, but I really love it here,” Abraham said before the Madison Central series. “These kids put in the work. They are a bunch of workers and they fight. I love that about them.”