This year’s Bulldogs include just three seniors. Caleb Adams at second base and Matt Strott at catcher are returning starters. Jaret Prater is starting in the outfield for the first season. Juniors are shortstop-pitcher-third baseman Tyler Lusk, first baseman Cale McCord and pitcher-shortstop-outfielder Peyton Whitten. Whitten transferred to Piedmont from White Plains at the start of the current school year late last summer.
Seven sophomores are part of the 19-player roster. Bayley Blanchard will pitch and play third base. Edrian Diaz, another transfer, is a shortstop. Jacob Goss and Devin Hincy are outfielders. Hunter Jones is a second baseman. Dalton Spears is battling McCord for the starting role at first base. Payton Young returns as the starter in left field.
Freshman Taylor Hayes will start in center field and pitch. Couy Taylor will pitch and play at third base. Ry Atkins is a pitcher. Derrick Baer can catch, play second base and cover ground in the outfield. Easton Kirk is a catcher and Michael Rogers is a second baseman.
Blanchard had expected defense and hitting would be strengths in 2014.
“I’ve been real surprised. Our pitching has been pretty good and our defense and hitting has been kind of off to start with. It’s kind of been opposite of what I thought it might be,” Blanchard said of the season’s start.
The Bulldogs opened on Feb. 18 with two losses on the road to Oxford by scores of 6-0 and 12-8. Blanchard said the second game was 8-7 until the late innings. On Friday, Piedmont played at home and defeated Cedar Bluff 9-5. Ahead 9-0, Blanchard played all 19 of his players. At Attalla Saturday, Etowah rallied to defeat Piedmont 3-2 after Piedmont led 2-0. In the second game Saturday, Cedar Bluff downed the Bulldogs 6-4.
Blanchard said that while a number of this year’s players have game experience at the varsity level few have been starters or the players depended upon to start rallies or drive in runs to give Piedmont leads.
“We’re trying to find a batting order right now that everybody feels comfortable with,” he said.