With the majority of his top hitters back from a team that was one crazy inning away from winning consecutive Class 5A baseball titles, Bishop Carroll coach Charlie Ebright can’t deny the spoils of spring.
“It’s exciting to watch batting practice, that’s for sure,” Ebright said. “We’ve got some really talented hitters.”
But there’s an underlying tone to Ebright’s voice that suggests the Golden Eagles’ mighty bats could possess the sheen of fool’s gold. Carroll opens the 2014 season Thursday against Heights with two of its top pitchers from last season, Braden Larkey and Matt Henning, honing their craft at Independence Community College.
“Good pitchers can equalize good hitting on any day,” Ebright said. “We’ll take what we can get offensively, but we’re not going to count on it. You go in trying to stop the other team from scoring runs.”
To that end, Carroll will build its pitching staff around senior Jordan Miller. The 6-foot-3 right-hander won 13 of 15 decisions over the last two seasons, including victories over Topeka Seaman (2012) and Mill Valley (2013) in the 5A semifinals.
Miller, who has signed with Cowley Community College, was 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA last season.
“He’s going to keep us in every ballgame,” Ebright said. “We’re still trying to figure out which other guys we’re going to use and what situations we’re going to use them in.
“It’s a young staff, but they’re a pretty talented group of kids.”
Carroll, which sandwiched a 22-game winning streak in between a season-opening loss to Heights and a 10-3 loss to Seaman in the 5A championship, returns senior catcher Taylor Sanagorski to aid the pitchers in new roles. Sanagorski, a two-year starter, has signed with Wichita State.
“He has a good grasp on calling a game and how to work with pitchers,” Ebright said. “Individually, he knows what makes each one of them tick.”
Sanagorski and Miller also comprise part of what Ebright believes will be the most potent part of Carroll’s batting order. Senior outfielders Mack Gowing (.469 batting average, 10 for 10 stolen bases in 2013) and Bryce Fischer (.489, 23 RBIs) produced throughout last season, while Ebright has high expectations for junior outfielder Jarrett Johnson this season. Senior infielder Tyler Palmore, who batted .409, adds to the challenge for opposing pitchers.
“The depth and length of our lineup is going to be to our advantage,” Ebright said. “It wears on teams. I wouldn’t want to pitch to us.”
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