So what is your selling point as a high school baseball coach when you have a team with eight seniors that has won back-to-back state championships?
"Our motto this year is 'Let's go be legendary,' " said Laurence Manning Academy head coach Barry …
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"Our motto this year is 'Let's go be legendary,' " said Laurence Manning Academy head coach Barry Hatfield, whose team has won consecutive SCISA 3A state titles. "We want to be legendary at a school that has traditionally been strong in baseball."
The Swampcats are off to a 3-0 start as they begin Region II-3A play on Friday on the road against Florence Christian School. Oddly, while LMA has won two straight state titles, it will be going for its second straight region title this year. Laurence Manning shared the region crown with Wilson Hall last year after the Barons won it in 2016.
Hatfield believes his team has the right mindset to win three in a row.
"These kids are all really old school," Hatfield said. "They don't care about batting averages, things like that. They say, 'Let's go win the ball game.'
"We've got a very veteran group. They won their first state title as 10th-graders, so that makes it easy to coach them. They know the expectations, and they know how to do things the right way."
Three-fourths of the infield is made up of 3-year senior starters. Brent Jordan starts at first base, Dawson Hatfield at second and Taylor Lee is the shortstop.
The two playing third base are seniors as well, Braydon Osteen and Riley Nettles. Osteen moved to third from right field. If Nettles isn't playing third, he is the designated hitter.
The two sharing time at catcher are also seniors, Dalton Page and Tripp Prosser. The other senior is centerfielder Morgan Morris.
Flanking Morris in the outfield are Jake Jordan in left and Brewer Brunson in right.
The Swampcats' two main starters on the mound are Osteen and junior Andrew Boyd, a verbal commitment to Radford University of the Big South Conference.
"They are like 1 and 1A," Coach Hatfield said of Osteen and Boyd. "Both have won games for us in the state championship series and both are outstanding pitchers."
Jake Jordan is the closer. Others who will be seeing time on the mound are Page, Morris, Seth Stamps, Nettles, Chase Lee, J.T. Stanley and Dawson Hatfield.
"We've got a lot of kids who can come in and fill different roles," Coach Hatfield said.
Taylor Lee is at the top of the batting order followed by Osteen, Morris, Nettles, Jake Jordan, Brent Jordan and Dawson Hatfield. Who is in the 8 hole depends on the defensive alignment and could be Boyd, Page or Prosser. The speedy Brunson bats ninth.
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