By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In head coach Byron Richardson’s first year, Forsyth finished with a 10-13 record, falling in the district semifinals to Strafford.
“We had a very competitive team last year and came up just short in several games,” Richardson said. “We lost to the state champs, Aurora, by one in the regular season. We then lost to Strafford in the semifinals of districts 5-3. Strafford went on to get second in the state.”
Graduated seniors Caleb Terrell and Cale Wallace move on from the program, which will need to quickly find replacements for the upcoming season.
“Caleb was a workhorse for us on the mound,” Richardson said. “We could count on him every game to give us a solid performance and a chance to win. Cale also threw really well for us last year. He gave us chances to win big games, and it will be tough to replace such dependable guys on the mound.”
With limited losses to graduation, Forsyth will benefit from a host of returning starters.
A quartet of seniors return to lead the Panther attack in infielder/pitcher Kaleb Etheridge (1.75 ERA, .288 BA, 19 hits, 10 RBI, 5 SB), outfielder Briar Kellem (.259 BA, 15 hits, 14 RBI 6 SB), infielder/outfielder/pitcher Darrien Woods (1-0, 4.77 ERA, .310 BA, 18 hits, 14 RBI, 4 SB) and catcher Johnny Mayhew (.269 BA, 18 hits, 7 RBI, 9 SB).
Additional returnees include junior infielder/pitcher Kendon Doublin (.203 BA, 15 hits, 14 RBI, 5 SB), sophomore infielder/pitcher Buck Sanders, junior outfielder/pitcher Jake Jordan and senior infielder/outfielder Jacob Burrow.
Newcomers poised to make an impact at the varsity level include sophomore outfielder/pitcher Hunter Creson, sophomore infielder Hayden Day, sophomore infielder Parker Gilman and senior outfielder Logan Reed.
“I am looking forwards to this season,” Richardson said. “We have a great group of kids that I look forward to seeing them step up to the challenges and work to improve every day.”
Richardson believes his team can be very competitive this season if his pitching staff is able to develop quickly.
“We lost some key pitching from last year, but I expect for some guys to step up and fill those roles,” Richardson said. “We also will need to help our pitchers out with a little more run production this season.”
Forsyth will also play in a new conference this season. The Panthers left the Southwest Central League to join the Mid-Lakes Conference.
Richardson has high expectations for the new conference and is looking forward to its challenges.
“It will be challenging once again this season and we will be joining a new conference,” Richardson said. “Every team will make you play at a high level to win. Strafford finished second in the state and returns almost everyone and the list can go on. Our district may once again be almost the same teams as our conference, but will have to wait till that information comes out. Regardless we will have to get used to playing our best baseball every game.”
Forsyth opens its season March 15 at home against Reeds Spring.