Tifton Gazette

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March 3, 2014

Tiftarea baseball returns tonight

TIFTON — When the clock strikes 6:30 tonight and an umpire shouts to play ball, it will be the start of another season for the boys of summer from Tiftarea Academy.

The Westfield Hornets will be their opponent and head coach Brad Porter is anxious to get started.

He lost six seniors from last year, but said "we return a good nucleus." Porter feels the character of this team is the same.

"Our first goal in this school and program is to honor and gloriAfy God." Along the way, he said, they aim to defend the 3-AAA title they won in 2013 and hopes to make it as far as last year's elite eight, where they fell to eventual state champion Tattnall Square Academy.

"The loss taught us a lot about ourselves and cemented that we belong."

Westfield should be a good chance to show their early mettle after a recent scrimmage against Valwood.

Porter said that sophomore Bo Vickers will take the mound the tonight. He is projected to be their No. 1 pitcher.

As for the eight guys around him on the field, he said "I feel good about the guys behind him."

He listed the rest of his starters. Senior Rob Flick will be catching,  Ethan Bryant is at first, Thomas Spurlin at second, Cade Marlowe will be playing shortstop and Noah McMinn is at third. The outfield consists of Zach Beier in left, Greer Howard in center and Devin Paul in right.

Spurlin and Flick were both all-region last season, he said. Bryant is expected to platoon with Taylor Folsom at first. Folsom is a veteran of the program, but missed all last year, Porter said, because of a shoulder injury suffered playing football.

His pitching corps will feature Paulk as the No. 2 starter with Bryant and Flick sharing starting mound time. For his bullpen, he said senior Pete Perrin will be the closer.

Tiftarea is scheduled to play at Windsor Academy Thursday with another home game against Valwood Friday.

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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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