There is as youth movement in place at Airport as the Eagles look to rebound from a disappointing 4-13-1 season in Tim Perry’s first year as head coach.
Airport has six freshmen and three sophomores on the varsity roster with only four seniors. But Perry believes improvement is afoot, based on the players’ commitment to an offseason strength and conditioning program.
“I’m thrilled to see the guys bought into the importance of getting into the weight room to get stronger and faster,” said Perry. “That and our focus and attention to detail has improved dramatically.”
Much will depend on the core pitching staff of junior Austin Hawley and seniors Caleb Talton and Forrest Arnold.
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Talton, a Limestone College signee, had a respectable 3.43 ERA in 18.1 inning of work on the hill and he batted .327 with eight RBIs (second highest total on the team). Hawley has a mid-80s fastball. Arnold led the team with a 2.77 ERA.
Another key returning player is Casey Parker, who will play at shortstop and do some time behind the plate, splitting time at catcher with Caleb Morris. Jason Shirey and Taylor Key are back and second and first base, respectively.
The all-freshman outfield of Josh Tucker, Tanner Glenn and Evan Richardson will be interesting to watch develop. All three are talented and fast.
The Eagles opened the regular season after a strong showing at the preseason Carolina Ale House Classic with a 9-1 win over Ridge View on Monday behind the pitching of Hawley. Airport travels to face Richland Northeast on Friday. The Eagles beat the Cavaliers 6-2 in the CAHC opener on Feb. 23.