When uncertainties abound, it’s always nice to be able to resort to tradition.
That seems to be the case for the 2017 Pearland varsity baseball team, which returns only a smattering of players from a 28-7 region semifinalist team last year.
The good news for head coach Anthony Scalise is that he seems to successfully replenish the supply of talent each season.
“The past few years we’ve had a lot of guys with a lot of experience, and that’s not the case this year,” Scalise said.
“The good news is that we think we’ve got some young kids that are really, really good. We’ve got 18 games before district to kind of figure it all out.”
Of the veterans Pearland does return, several could be manning new positions.
“He (Garcia) has great hands, and those two middle guys have been phenomenal so far. (Joseph) Barfield is moving to first (from third base), and Matt Adams, who has been really solid so far, is going to play third.
“Joseph has good hands and feet, and we feel first base is a better fit for him. The move allows him to concentrate on hitting a little more, and he’ll also see some time on the mound for us.”
Another change on the infield could be at catcher, where two-year starter Jacob Whitehead may not necessarily play this year.
“Ryan Weaver has been really good behind the plate, so the catching position is really wide open,” Scalise said. “We might switch Jacob to the outfield or DH just so we don’t wear him out.
“The last four years, we’ve had just one catcher, and we just hoped they could survive. Having Ryan back there gives us some options.”
The Oiler outfield will have a new look, but Scalise is encouraged by the talent which could fill those three spots.
“Mason Lytle, a sophomore, is a fast kid, who could probably play center,” Scalise said. “Another sophomore, Jase Lofty, is a left-handed hitter that can really handle the bat.
“The other corner will probably come down to who’s swinging the bat best.”
As far as pitching is concerned, the outlook from the end of last spring until now has changed dramatically.
“Nick Landrum just hurt his knee running to first, and it could potentially be a season-ending injury,” Scalise said. “Isaiah Quezada and Ray Castro both hurt themselves in summer ball, and their status isn’t good right now.
“The good thing is that Barfield can throw, and we’ve got several other guys – Garrett Grothe, Aris Jaquez and Davin Garcia who can help us.
“Matt Adams has been up to 86 (mph) and Lytle can throw. We have a lot of arms, but nobody like a Brady Basso, who when he steps on the rubber you know you’ve got about a 95 percent chance of winning unless you implode.”
Colby Casey, a 6-2, 225-pound freshman, is another pitcher Pearland has available.
“This is the best freshman group we’ve had in the last nine years,” Scalise said.
While Pearland often begins a campaign in mid-season form, the Oilers will be a work in progress this year.
“We’ll have a chance to be good, but we’ll have some bumps in the road,” Scalise said. “I don’t know much about the Alief schools, but Brazoswood will be fine, and George Ranch is loaded.
“I think they’ve got nine division I commits, and a lot of those are going to schools like LSU, A&M and Rice. Dawson…I think they lost pretty much everybody so Kerry (Cox) will play young like us.
“I think our top five guys can really swing it, and we’ve got a couple of power guys. It’s going to take some time for us, but I believe we’ve got some potential.”