Rebuilding continues for Flashes

Published 11:54 pm Friday, February 17, 2012

Last season was a disaster for the St. Aloysius baseball team. A year removed from a two-year reign as the best team in Class 1A, the Flashes fell to Earth in 2011 with a 3-18 record.

The turmoil of two coaching changes during the season hurt St. Aloysius. The St. Al administration decided they needed someone with similar credentials that former coach Clint Wilkerson had — an experienced coach with a collegiate background. They found one in former Millsaps assistant coach Derrik Boland.

Boland has brought back the structure the young Flashes lacked. First baseman Neal Ricks, who is one of two seniors, said Boland is a good fit.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“Coach Boland is a good guy,” Ricks said. “He can lead us to a good year. He’s coached at college level and he’s brought in a lot of new stuff. He’s the best we’ve had since Coach Wilkerson.”

Ricks was one of the few steady bats St. Al had last year, batting .240. The other two, Judson Gatling and Carlisle Koestler, either graduated or transferred.

Joining Ricks as a senior leader is Josh Eargle. He missed most of last season recovering from a knee injury suffered during football. Eargle had a handful of starts on the mound during the 2010 state title season and was the starting designated hitter in the title-clinching game against Myrtle.

Boland is glad to have Eargle back.

“He’s looked rusty at times, but he looks better each day,” Boland said. “He and Ricks are the lone two seniors. Ricks started all year and he’s become our most vocal leader.”

The rest of the team is young with three juniors, five sophomores, six freshmen and nine eighth-graders.

“We have a good crop of eighth- and ninth-graders and it reminds me of the group that Clint started and built up,” Boland said.

Drake Dorbeck, one of the freshmen, cuts an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He’ll help out both on the mound and as designated hitter.

Sophomore Matthew Foley was a defensive anchor at centerfield and made strides as a leadoff hitter as the season progressed. Boland is also optimistic about Matt Bell, who returns to the diamond.

Two other juniors, Matt Mims and Andrew Collins, saw time either in the infield or on the mound last year. Both have improved, with Mims likely to be the No. 2 starting pitcher and Collins, at second base. Sophomore Ben Welp is back at catcher, while Connor Smith and Patrick Murphy should find a spot either at third or the outfield.

As for putting last year’s dismal three-win season behind them, Boland hopes to use his experience with Millsaps coach Jim Page.

“He was the best at bringing certain standards there,” Boland said. “I feel we have changed the mindset on and off the field.”

Pitchouts-St. Aloysius

Coach: Derrik Boland (first year)

Last year’s record: 3-18, missed playoffs

Key returnees: 1B Neal Ricks (.240, 14 RBI): OF Matthew Foley (.316, 12 runs), P/3B Josh Eargle (.417), 2B Andrew Collins (.304, 11 runs)

Key losses: 3B/RHP Judson Gatling; SS Carlisle Koestler

Burning questions: Can the Flashes replace the innings lost from workhorse pitcher Judson Gatling? Can they find a new everyday shortstop?