By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Future college players the likes of flamethrowers Jay Kaufman, Layn Hurst and Tyler Groves have been among the feature hurlers for Forsyth teams over the past five years.
The Panthers don’t have an overpowering arm this season, but figure they have a formidable ace in crafty Caleb Terrell. All he did was win last year, finishing 7-0 with 3.00 ERA as Forsyth’s No. 2 pitcher behind Groves.
With Groves gone to play juco ball for Meramec, Terrell will assume the Panthers No. 1 role on the mound.
“He’s going to take on the brunt of pitching in a lot of our big games,” said coach Byron Richardson, who enters his first season at his alma mater after stints at Gainesville and Galena.
“I expect him to be our horse. He doesn’t play basketball, so he’s kept his arm in shape over the winter and is ready to go. He does a great job mixing up his pitches and staying out of the middle of the zone. He’s not going to blow it by you, but will keep you off balance.”
Richardson can use some of the same characteristics to describe Cale Wallace, who was 4-5 with three saves and a 3.70 ERA last year.
As pitch-to-contact types, Terrell and Wallace will rely on their defense.
“That is going to be the biggest key to our season, whether our defense is going to be able to keep us in games,” Richardson said. “From what I saw over the summer, I feel like we should be pretty strong defensively all the way around. We’ve got guys who can play multiple positions, depending on who is on the mound. Where those guys end up is going to be interesting.”
Forsyth’s seven returning starters from last season’s 16-9 group that shared the SWCL regular-season title with Galena also include Darrien Woods, Kendon Doublin, Kaleb Etheridge, Johnny Mayhew and Briar Kellem.
Woods’ sophomore season saw him post a .282 batting mark with 17 RBIs.
“Darrien does a good job of not getting himself out,” Richardson said. “He’s going to hit pitches that are in the zone and take good swings at them. He’s not someone who is going to hit a ton of home runs, but he definitely has some extra-base power.”
Etheridge, Doublin and Mayhew each had 13 RBIs or more last season.
Forsyth teams traditionally have ran wild, stealing bases in bunches.
“Hopefully, we can continue that and I’ve been impressed how well we can run,” Richardson said. “It will depend year to year on what type of athletes we have.”
Richardson coached fall ball while at Galena and ideally would have liked to learn more about his new players last fall. But as of 2016, Forsyth competes during the spring season only.
“I always enjoyed fall baseball to get in extra practices,” Richardson said. “But we got in work over the summer. Also, we have had them work harder in the weight room. I’ve been impressed with their mindset in the weight room. Hopefully, we can continue to get them get bigger and stronger.”