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By Marlana Smith
Eight seniors will bring a lot of experience, success and leadership to the North Shelby Raiders baseball team.
Seniors are Robert Uhlmeyer, Kyle Smith, Cale Stoneburner, Landon Bender, Justin Lunsford, Carson Orr, Noah Greenwell and Dominic Manning.
Head coach Scott Gaines prepares his 16th season with 23 players. He is assisted by Dan Uhlmeyer.
The Raiders began practice February 28 but have been fighting Mother Nature to get some early season practices in this year.
With so many players, Gaines hopes to play some extended junior varsity games to give other opportunities to improve skills.
As of Monday, March 21, the following are the positions on the field: Robert Uhlmeyer: Pitcher, SS and Catcher; Kyle Smith: 1st Base, SS, Pitcher; Cale Stoneburner: Leftfield, Pitcher; Landon Bender: 3rd base, 1st Base; Carson Orr: Centerfield; Justin Lunsford: Rightfield; JD Rich: Shortstop; Casey Shockley: Catcher, Pitcher and Keaton Roan: 2nd Base.
“These positions are up to change,” said Gaines. “We have some other players pushing for varsity playing time also.”
Gaines feels all the Raiders are key to the team. Everyone has a role to fill.
Coach Gaines said the team will more than likely lean on Uhlmeyer as the ace of the pitching staff. Smith, Shockley and Stoneburner will all fill prominent pitching roles as well.
“Casey does an excellent job catching and controlling the running game,” Gaines said.
Rich, Uhlmeyer, Smith, Shockley, Stoneburner and Bender will make up the heart of the battling order. Orr, Lunsford and Stoneburner cover a lot of ground in the outfield and can catch almost anything hit in the air.
The Raiders goal is to have a winning season and a win a District Championship.
“We want to win a district championship in three consecutive sports,” Gaines said.
If the weather cooperates, Coach Gaines said the fans can expect some exciting baseball. The Raiders return 8-of-9 starters and 4-of-5 pitchers from last year.