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March 9, 2013

Porter expects big season from Panthers

TIFTON — Brad Porter may be the first-year head baseball coach for the Tiftarea Academy Panthers, but that is not stopping him from dreaming big. “I have high expectations for this team,” he said.

There are certainly all the indications for a strong year. Porter’s Panthers are 2-0 so far, having allowed a single run while scoring 15. Their games have been a 13-1 thumping of Frederica Academy at St. Simons Island and a 2-0 victory over Mount de Sales at home, which saw Eric Lee toss a one-hitter and strike out 15. They played Valwood Friday.

The scores are not the only thing that have thrilled the coach, the names on the roster have as well. There are six seniors on the team: Lee, Dustin McAlpin, Mason Bryant, Jake Ball, Taylor Boothe and Christian Kozma. Two are already making plans for life on the diamond after Tiftarea. McAlpin has signed with Indian River State and Lee is entertaining offers for several colleges, including Truett-McConnell and Southern Union. “They’re all going to be leaders,” he said.

His underclassmen are proving their mettle as well. “We have two quality catchers,” he said. Rob Flick and Joseph Spinks will both handle duties behind the plate. Cade Marlowe and Thomas Spurlin have also stood out for him. He said that Spurlin has been playing outstanding defense.

Tiftarea’s season ended last year in the second round of the GISA state playoffs, when after winning their first game against Bulloch Academy, they dropped the next two. “We hope they’ll make a run into the playoffs,” said Porter of this year’s crew.

The Panthers were supposed to have played another game at this point, but a contest at Perry against Westfield School was rained out. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 12 as a doubleheader in Chula. Not having to go to Perry and an additional home game was well-received by Porter. “It worked out pretty good for us,” he said.

Porter was drawn to Tiftarea by two main factors — being on the same campus as his son and for religious reasons. “I liked its background as a Christian school,” he said. “Christ is so important in my life and I feel like God led me here.”

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Jensen Rainey (left) and Josie Arant will both be participating in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship next week in North Carolina.

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