Charles Henderson set to open season

Published 10:41 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Charles Henderson High School's Jalin Lawson tosses the ball to Morgan Shaver during practice in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Many coaches will say during the preseason “it’s time to play someone other than ourselves.” Charles Henderson’s baseball team is feeling the same way.

The Trojans enter the 2012 season primed to make a run deep into the Class 5A playoffs after a 20-14 campaign a year ago. The Trojans were swept in the first round of the postseason by Russell County.

“I feel like the guys are playing the way we want them to play,” head coach Derek Irons said. “They are playing aggressively but it’s still the preseason, we won’t know for sure until we play somebody else.”

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Charles Henderson returns two starters in the outfield in Gregory Barnette and Tripp Blackmon.

“We want our outfielders to be aggressive and looking to make plays,” Irons said. “I feel like they developed into that type of outfielder.”

Seniors Austin Adler and Michael Thomas will also see time in the outfield.

“As seniors we needed them to step up and settle in out there,” said Irons. “They’ve done a good job of that. We’re looking for them to contribute.”

Second baseman Jalin Lawson leads an infield that, according to Irons, features more depth that last season.

Lawson, who recently signed with Central Alabama Community College, will anchor the middle of Charles Henderson’s batting order as well.

Michael Fox will compliment Lawson at shortstop to form a strong middle infield for the Trojans.

“Both of those guys are really good players,” Irons said. “We should be solid up the middle.”

Freshman Chase Smartt forms half of the Trojans battery. Smartt makes the move to catcher after spending last season in the hot corner at third. The frosh blasted five home runs as an eighth grader last season.

“He had a good year for us offensively last year,” said Irons. “We’re expecting a lot out of him this season as well.”

The corners will be manned by Luke Hastings at third and Joey Denison at first base. Rhett Tucker will also be in the mix at those positions while Morgan Shaver will spell Lawson at second.

On the mound for the Trojans will be a bevy of upperclassmen. Houston Mabray and Trip Blackmon will head the rotation for Charles Henderson. Brantley LeCroy will be in the midst of the action as a starter but has battled shoulder trouble during the preseason.

Lawson,Fox, Adler and Hastings will also see action on the mound.

Charles Henderson opens the season on Feb. 20 at LBW-Andalusia in a twin bill with Jackson High School starting at 11a.m. followed by a match with G.W. Long at 5p.m.

The Trojans will then play a trio of games against non-area foes before kicking off the annual Terry Sikes Memorial Tournament on March 1.