Younger players look to fill void for CHHS

Published 8:43 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jalin Lawson is congratulated following his home run during the Trojans' game vs. Carroll High School, in Troy, Alabama, on Thursday, April 1, 2010. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

There comes a time when sports teams have to rely on younger, less experienced talent to help produce a successful season.

That time is now for the Charles Henderson Trojans.

Thanks to five seniors graduating last season, all of who played key roles, the Trojans and head coach Derek Irons have been in the process of filling the void left over.

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Of the current varsity lineup, eight of the 15 players have played some significant time at the varsity level.

That means there will be seven players coming into a brand new world, so to speak.

“It’s a little nerve-racking,” Irons said. “But that’s part of high school baseball.

“We got to have young guys step up. You are always going to lose guys to graduation and some years it is going to hurt more than others. Last year, it really hurt us because we had a great group of seniors, but we have a great group of juniors and sophomores that I think will be able to fill in the roles that were vacated. It all starts over on Monday.”

Of the 10 combined juniors and sophomores, only Dalton Harris, Jalin Lawson and Michael Fox saw everyday action.

All three saw over 80 at-bats in 2010, but Lawson saw the most and in turn was the most productive, hitting .397 with five home runs and 38 RBI in 126 at-bats.

Fox finished with an average of .257 in 105 at-bats, while Harris finished with a .195 average in 87 at-bats.

“Dalton is a guy last year that was in the same kind of role as the sophomores are this season,” Irons said.

“Michael Fox and Jalin Lawson were all in the role where they had to step in and fill a roll here and there. Now, those guys have been moved up to bigger roles – we are going to count on them a little more.”

As for the aforementioned sophomores, there are three that will be looked on to contribute, Tripp Blackmon, Houston Mabray and Joey Denison.

Both Blackmon and Mabray will see shared time in both the outfield and as pitchers, while Denison will be a backup catcher to senior Chase Connell.

It’s on the mound where Irons hopes to see the sophomores contribute the most.

“We have a good sophomore class, and they are going to be guys that are all going to have to come in and help out early on,” the coach said.

“We feel pretty strongly that all three of those guys are going to see time on the mound. One of the keys to having a successful season is putting together good starting. And if we are going to do that, those guys are going to have to step up.”

Aside from being called up for the playoffs last year, Blackmon has not seen too much of the varsity level.

And while all that will change in just a few days, the sophomore said his nervous have calm down a bit.

“I sort of was nervous at first (about playing at varsity),” Blackmon said. “But I just realized that I got to come out here and have fun.

“It doesn’t really matter where I am on the field, as long as I am playing, I am going to do my best to help the team.”

On the reverse end of the player spectrum, Lawson will be hoping to begin the new season off the way he finished last season – as an offensive producer.

“It’s important for us to be as ready as we can be before Monday and keep working hard,” Lawson said. “I’m ready for this season.

“I want to hit more home runs, I want to really lead this team in everything this season.”