So when the Titans took the field in 2013 with a brand-new pitching staff, a revamped lineup and a much younger squad in the dugout, it would have been understandable for head coach Josh Bartlett’s team to experience the growing pains of a rebuilding season.
To date though, the only pain associated with Northview baseball is the pounding that the young Titans have given opposing pitching staffs — averaging a robust 8.4 runs per game through Friday’s action and powering their way to a 6-3 start on the season.
“With this year’s team I knew we were young, but knew there was a lot of potential and if they came out and started off well I knew they could be a good team,” said Bartlett, whose team picked up key region wins over Osborne (12-2) and Sprayberry (15-10) last week.
“We have come around offensively so far, each game more and more players are getting hits and scoring runs.”
Early heroes at the plate include senior catcher Jason Delay (.583 batting average, six homeruns, 15 runs-batted-in), junior outfielder Jack Ryan (.355, 10 runs, four stolen bases) and sophomore Christian Skjoedt (.480, nine, 15 runs), a trio that seemingly picked up where Tyler Krieger and Sean McLaughlin (now starring at Clemson and Georgia respectively) left off in the batter’s box.
“Losing great leaders and great players always affects your team in some way, but how the returning players respond tells you whether the loss will be negative orpositive,” said the Northview coach, who lost nine seniors from the 2012 team that advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
“Our returning seniors have shown great leadership on the field as well as off [and] the junior class, as well as sophomore class has great individual talent to help support the leadership that was lost from last year’s class of seniors,” Bartlett said.
Other budding stars at Northview include left-handed pitcher David Ehmen (2-0, 16 strikeouts) who has assumed McLaughlin’s spot as the Titans’ ace on the mound. Sophomore hurlers D.J. Pearson (2-2, 15 strikeouts) and Jake Brown (2-0, 0.00 ERA) have held their own as well, giving Northview a well-rounded roster capable of competing with the best of the best in Region 7AAAAA.
“If we continue to pitch well and our bats continue to get better, we will be up there at the top [of the region],” said the Northview skipper.
“As long as they stay focused and don’t get complacent, I think we have a very good shot in this region to not only make the playoffs, but make a run in the playoffs.”