By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Seven years ago, Larry Foster retired from high school baseball but continued to teach.
Now, he’s gone the other way. Last year was Foster’s final teaching year, but he’s back as Etowah High baseball coach.
“The Good Lord impressed upon me that I should continue to work with these youth,” he said. “I tossed it around for awhile, then the baseball job came open, so I thought I’d maybe try again.”
If the second time works as well as the first, look for big things, as Etowah was a contender most years under Foster, who was named coach last May.
As head coach at Etowah from 1981 to 2004, Foster guided the Blue Devils to a 520-209 record while winning state championships in 1985, 1987 and 1996. Etowah qualified for the state playoffs 18 times under Foster. He was inducted to the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
This season has gotten off to a good start, as the Blue Devils have an 8-3 record. Foster credits that to good pitching and good hitting.
Josh Bobo and Colby Dunn are the go-to guys on the pitching staff, with left-hander Nick Humphrey helping. Humphrey completed a perfect game Saturday against Cedar Bluff.
“I don’t care if you’re throwing in a telephone booth, a perfect game is something to be proud of,” Foster said. “Humphrey is really coming along. He’s done a tremendous job so far.”
Kyle Underwood and Dylan Capes are two other pitchers that Foster believes will help determine the fate of the 2013 squad.
The batters aren’t doing too bad, either. So far, Etowah is batting .364 as a team, led by the .500 average of No. 5 hitter Blaine Payne and the .438 average of leadoff man Caleb Ledbetter.
“(Payne) is a good contact hitter who has some power,” Foster said. “And Ledbetter has around a .600 on-base percentage. When you can get your leadoff man on base that often, good things are bound to happen.”
Foster also praised his team’s defense, so it appears that the Attalla squad is already headed in the right direction.
“I’m anxious to get to (Class 5A, Area 13) play,” Foster said. “If you can compete with Southside, Boaz and Fort Payne, you can compete with about any 5A team.”
The Blue Devils last season finished second in the area behind eventual state runner-up Southside and made the state playoffs.