Huntington ‘hungry’ for new season

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Despite a strong finish last year, a rough start held the Huntington Hounds to a second-place district finish behind then-district opponent Franklin Academy.

But with nine of the Hounds’ 20 players on the 2001 roster in their final year of prep baseball, don’t expect another season to slip through Huntington’s fingers, said first-year coach Michael McAnally.

&uot;They’re hungry,&uot; he said. &uot;This is the seniors’ last year of competitive high school baseball, and they want to go out champions. And they’ve got a shot if the pitchers throw strikes, and we do what we need to do.&uot;

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While pitching is one of Huntington’s strengths – seniors Barrett Kiser and Trey Mason will handle most of the pitching duties – McAnally said the experience and leadership of nine seniors is what gives the Hounds an edge.

&uot;Defensively, we’re very smart. These are guys that have been around,&uot; he said. &uot;The seniors have been in the program for three of four years, and they kind of know what we expect from them.

&uot;You especially want your middle infielders to be on the same page. We’ve got some guys that have played together for years,&uot; McAnally said. &uot;That cohesiveness is our strength.&uot;

Kiser agreed. &uot;We’re baseball-smart, and that comes from experience,&uot; he said. &uot;I think a lot of young teams lack leadership. We’ve got plenty this year.&uot;

And that leadership starts at the top. McAnally is assisted by last year’s head coach Mitch Ashmore. McAnally has already proven himself a capable coach, most recently taking the Huntington Lady Hounds fast-pitch softball team to a South State title.

McAnally said he hopes these factors have raised everyone’s expectations for the Hounds.

&uot;I like high expectations,&uot; he said. &uot;Whether it’s in the classroom or on the field, I’m going to challenge the players. The athletes here at Huntington are capable of a lot more than they think.&uot;

That attitude explains several intimidating games on the Huntington schedule, including meetings with larger schools such as Parklane and Jackson Prep.

&uot;I made it a point to schedule some tough games so we can see what we’re made of,&uot; McAnally said. &uot;That’s how you gain respect in this league. We’re not backing down from anybody.&uot;