Chester High Baseball Coach Logan Pemberton said if his team works on improving in two fundamental areas, it will be a good year.
“Throwing strikes and timely hitting,” he said. “We saw in the preseason that if we attack the strike zone and get hits when we need them, we’ll have a good chance to win. We also saw what happens when we walk everybody.”
This is the second year at the helm of the program for Pemberton, who was a standout at Lewisville High School, Spartanburg Methodist College and Lander University. Last year’s Chester team made the playoffs and won a game in the postseason. Pemberton said this year’s edition of the Cyclones has a chance to surpass those accomplishments if a fairly young team can improve in a couple of areas.
“We’ve looked good we just have a ways to go, which we can do as we get more experience. We just have to be able to throw strikes and get key hits when we need them,” Pemberton said.
A handful of seniors opted not to play this year, but Pemberton said he’s very happy with the two senior leaders on the roster in Deontrea Johnson and Landon Hoyle. Johnson was the winning pitcher in that playoff victory last season and figures to be one of Pemberton’s frontline starters on the mound this season as well. Hoyle will contribute at pitcher, first and third base.
Presently, the varsity team is 11 players, though Pemberton said he could call up a couple of JV players at some point. A strength of the small but efficient group is versatility. Riley Darby will pitch but can play in the outfield or infield. Caleb Levister can pitch and play first, Wade Alley will see time at third base and behind the plate, Tyler Williams can play in the infield or outfield and Darby Clack will pitch and play second base.
Cam Jennings and Kyan Kennedy will primarily play in the outfield and Pemberton said the latter is a lefty who has shown some pop at the plate. Carson Brunner has done a good job at catcher and Hunter Rawls has a solid glove at middle infield.
Pemberton considers defense a team strength at this point.
“We’ve got outfielders that can go get it and our infield makes the routine plays,” he said.
Chester is in a new-look region this year, one that figures to be much more competitive than the Cyclones have seen the past two seasons. There is one interesting connection in the region, that being at Union County, where Pemberton’s high school coach (Billy Keels) is now the head man. Pemberton expects the Yellow Jackets, Woodruff and Emerald to all be good and thinks Clinton has the talent to make a deep run. He believes Chester can be right in the mix, though, as young players develop, throw strikes and a develop a knack for timely hits.