By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Can Southside High make another big baseball playoff run?
Last year, the Panthers finished as 2012 Class 5A state runners-up and made the semifinals the previous season.
A strong and talented senior class makes it a good possibility for Southside to do just that – but time will tell.
Two of last year’s pitchers – Andrew Pondick and Alex Fuhrman – are back for their senior campaigns.
Fuhrman has already signed to play with the University of Montevallo and Pondick is looking to sign a scholarship.
“They’ve both pitched in big games for us and both have a lot of experience,” coach Blake Bone said. “I don’t mind handing either one the ball for any game. I’m looking for them to be leaders on the field, too.”
When not pitching, Pondick plays shortstop.
Two other key positions – catcher and center field – are also manned by seniors.
Behind the plate, Cody Pylant has the experience to handle pitchers.
“Cody is a very good defensive catcher,” Bone said. “He’s also gotten more consistent with his bat. He’s done everything we’ve ever asked of him.”
Center fielder Conner Paulson is the man responsible for making sure the outfield is in correct alignment.
“He directs everything out there,” Bone said. “He is very good at making sure the others are in their right places.”
Even with these seniors, Bone is still trying to figure out his best combinations, both on the field and in the lineup.
“We lost a good first baseman and a good second baseman from last year’s team,” Bone said. “And we’ve had some kids step up and are making a case for playing time.
“I’m still fiddling with the lineups, trying to get them in their best spots.”
This is Bone’s sixth season heading up the Panthers.