Marlins returning some experience on the diamond
With six non-league games under their belt, the Destin Middle School baseball team is shaping up.
“They are looking alright,” said Destin Marlin Coach Brian McDaniel at practice earlier this week.
In the last few weeks, the Marlins have played Baker, Davidson, Walton, Pryor and Shoal River a couple of times and have won all games except for a 1-1 deadlock with the Pryor Pirates.
“In the game we tied, we threw nine innings and gave up one run,” McDaniel said.
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The Marlins have a lot of experience on the roster this year with several of the boys having two and three years in the program.
“That’s always good, because they know the system,” McDaniel said.
“But we also have about 10 new guys in the program,” he added, noting they have four fifth graders and three sixth graders on the roster.
“But the older guys are helping us out and coaching them up a little bit.”
Eighth graders that have been in the program since sixth grade include Harrison Brice, Nolan Berry, Cameron Gagliano and Conner Crimmins.
Other eighth graders who have been on the team since seventh grade are Christian Parker, Gage and Jake Peaden.
“So we’ve got a lot of kids from last year that have a lot of experience that are coming back,” he said.
In addition to the eighth graders with experience, McDaniel has seventh graders Robbie Rush, Christian Ford and Nick Greer who have been Marlins since fifth grade.
“We should have some experience,” he reiterated.
“As far as the talent level, it’s about as average as it has been. But I think we can overcome some of that talent level with the way we work. They work hard … and we’ve got some real committed this year, which is always good.”
And the commitment is already showing up on the playing field with the five non-league wins.
“We haven’t hit the ball the way I thought we should be hitting, but we’ve been very good on the bases, very aggressive on the bases, which can help you win games,” McDaniel said.
“Pitching is what has kept us in games so far,” he said.
McDaniel has a loaded bullpen with 11 guys seeing time on the mound thus far.
Lead hurlers for the Marlins are Gagliano, Brice, Gage Peaden and Berry.
“Jonah Hoover will be in the mix and Christian Ford looks good on the mound as well,” McDaniel said.
And out of the 11 pitchers, six are lefties.
“We should be able to throw strikes,” he said.
In the six games played, the Marlins have only given up five or six runs, while scoring eight or nine themselves.
“We’ve hit the ball hard at times, and we’ve had times when we didn’t make adjustments when we should have,” he said.
“It’s going to be interesting how it works out this year.
“We’re as good as anybody we’ve played so far.
“I think Meigs is going to be pretty solid and Pryor is looking good. We’re just going to try and shoot to get in the playoffs and see what happens from there.”
The Marlins regular season begins with a 4 p.m. game on April 13 at Lewis Middle School in Valparaiso.
ON THE ROSTER