By Chris Parker
Cabool baseball will have a new look this year with a new coach in Joseph Spittler and many players new to the varsity level after the 2020 season was canceled.
“I think it (the cancelation of the 2020 season) hurt a lot of the kids. Most of them didn’t play summer ball so they haven’t played a game in a long time,” Spittler said. “Obviously it was the worst case scenario for last year’s seniors. It affected me as a coach because this is my first year and I wasn’t able to watch the kids play last year so it’s hard to get a good read on where we will be at starting the season.”
“This is my first year at Cabool so we will all be starting basically from scratch. I didn’t get to watch any of them last year due to COVID, so I’m not really sure where most of the kids are at,” Spittler said. “I do know they are excited and eager to get the opportunity to play baseball again. Coach Samoza did a great job last year of starting to bring excitement back to the program. His energy and enthusiasm will be a big factor in how our kids progress throughout the year.”
Many of Cabool’s baseball players participate in other sports where Spittler has had the chance to observe their leadership skills.
“We will have several seniors that have shown they can take on the leadership role in other sports this year, so I am hoping that carries over to baseball,” Spittler said. “Quincy Flanagan will be one of those seniors. He pitches and is willing to play wherever he is needed. He does a good job of staying level and dealing with pressure. Trevor Atkins should be another one we will look to. He should be our number one pitcher and is a very competitive kid. Kaevin Jackson is one of our players that continued to play throughout the summer on travel teams and plays catcher so he will have to step up and be one of our leaders.”
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Atkins and Flanagan are the only two players that Spittler knows for sure will be on the mound. Atkins posted a 2.12 ERA with two saves in 2019 with a .235 batting average and eight stolen bases. Flanagan had a 3.78 ERA with a .382 batting average in the same season.
Jackson brings the most experience at catcher where he has started since his freshman year and earned all-conference honors. He hit .309 in 2019.
“Kaevin has started at catcher since his freshman year and earned SCA honorable mention as a sophomore,” Spittler said. “He has dedicated a lot of time to baseball over the last four years, and I look for him to continue his career into college.”
Cabool has players with experience on the infield, but the positioning is a work in progress.
“We have several players who have played in the infield before, but no one is locked in to a position yet,” Spittler said. “Braxton Davis (junior) has played since he was a freshman and is one of the hardest working kids I’ve seen. Trevor Akins (senior) and Quincy Flanagan (senior) will fit in somewhere when they are not pitching. Some of the other players who will compete for a spot will be Will Johnson (senior), Eddie Swislowski (junior), Caleb Graven (sophomore).”
Four seniors will be in the mix in the outfield.
“Logan Primanzon (senior) will be our leader in the outfield. He will most likely be our center fielder. He is one of, if not, our fastest players. Eli Garner (senior) started in the outfield in 2019, and he will be in the mix as well. Several other players will compete for playing time at the other spot. Dakota Shwenk (senior) and Payton Byerly (senior) are two of those that I expect to lead that competition,” Spittler said.
Cabool brings athleticism all over the field, but will need to work on baseball-specific skills throughout the season.
“I think so far from what I’ve seen the biggest strength we have is just overall athleticism. We have a lot of good athletes out who are pretty good at whatever sport they play. We just need to get them back in the groove of playing baseball,” Spittler said. “I think there will be room for improvement in every area. The kids haven’t played baseball in so long I think a lot of our pre-season will be working on fundamentals and dealing with the mental aspects of the game.”
Cabool opens the season on Mar. 19 at Gainesville.
“I expect us to play hard and have fun doing it,” Spittler said. “I really don’t know what to expect from this group as far as wins and losses. There’s a lot of talent, but it’s been awhile since they’ve picked up a baseball so we will just have to work throughout the year and hopefully be hitting our stride as districts start.”