With youth usually comes loads of energy. And such is the case for the Destin Middle School Marlin baseball team.
With 19 on the roster, the Marlins have one fifth grader, five sixth graders, seven seventh graders and six eighth graders.
"We’re very young,“ said Destin Coach Matt Cawthon, noting they are going to have to come out and put in the work. “But they’ve come out really hungry these first few days.
“We’re young, but we’re also a talented young bunch,” he added.
Cawthon said he has several utility players on the team.
“We’ve got a half dozen guys that are going to play four or five different positions on the field,” Cawthon said. “We have a very unique team this year.”
Out of the 19 on the roster only five are returning starters. They are eighth graders Hunter Barber, Price Bowen, Gavin Garrity along with seventh graders Wyatt Wainwright and Christian Erlich.
Although the Marlins are young, Cawthon said they are “competitive and a high energy bunch ... they have a lot of energy.
“That’s something that can be hard to coach at times but it definitely makes things easier when you’ve got kids that are giving their all every day,” he said.
As to who will be manning the hill, that question is still unanswered.
“We’ll have to share responsibilities a lot this year,” he said.
Cawthon said he has some eighth, seventh and even sixth graders that will get their chance on the mound this year.
“They’e gotten on the hill a couple of times. It’ going to come down to four or five guys that have the opportunity to get in there and start for us this year,” he said, noting he has about that many that will come in as relief. “It’s still early right now ... but we’ve got a good mix.”
When it comes to hitting, coach said they’re a little rusty.
“We’re so young that we’re going to have to play like we’re not underclassmen, but step up and play with a lot of confidence ... but a lot of humble confidence,” Cawthon said. “I believe if we get out there and be the best version of you ... I think if we do that we’ll be in every game.”
The Marlins open the season at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at home against the Bruner Spartans.
The Marlins, who finished as champs last year in the small school division, hope to be back in the running this year.
This year, however, there is no small and big school classification.
For middle school, it’s back to one division.
“We like it ... we like the competition,” he said.
Every game on the 15-game schedule will count.
“It’s a lot easier to get up for the games and motivate the kids (when every game counts),” Cawthon said. “We’re looking forward to it and are very excited about it. If we can put in the work and can all improve throughout the year ... I like our shot as well as anybody else. We just can’t get complacent.”