3/12/2013 6:00:00 AM Kingman Academy lineup ready to challenge for CAA title Biggest obstacle may be themselves, overconfidence
Kingman Academy Black’s Tarik Skubal delivers a pitch during the opening round of the 3A CAA playoffs last May at Southside Park. Pitching will be a strength for the team, which also returns Westin McCord and Quinn Garcia. RODNEY HAAS/Miner
KINGMAN - With strong pitching depth, a balanced lineup and a solid defense, the only team that could beat Kingman Academy Black this year may be Kingman Academy Black.
"They have high expectations of themselves," said KAHS coach Bill McCord. "They want to go undefeated. They have the ability to do that. I have to keep them grounded. I don't want to get them overconfident. Our pitching can get it done. I'm pretty confident in them, but I don't want to get overconfident in them."
Pitchers Tarik Skubal, Quinn Garcia and Westin McCord return to a Black team that won last year's 3A Charter Athletic Association Championship with a 3-2 win over KAHS' Blue team. They will be joined by Blue's top pitchers from last year in Jake Miner and Ty Sherwood. McCord decided to split the two teams this year, with Black being the older, more experienced squad.
"We are going to be pretty solid all the way around," McCord said. "My big thing now is we are more like a regular varsity team. I'm going to have some good players sitting on the bench, where before I would play my nine and have some freshmen on the bench."
Besides the addition of Miner and Sherwood on the mound, McCord also took the top six hitters from each squad and combined them to form a potent 1-through-9 lineup that hit anywhere between .300 and .500 last year.
"If we don't have a .300 batting average as a team, then something is going wrong," McCord said.
The other thing that could help the averages is the decision by the players to switch back to aluminum bats.
Last year, the National Federation of High Schools began adopting BBCOR bats. The bats are more of a composite metal that is supposed to slow the speed of the ball. However, instead of going to the BBCOR bats, KAHS instead elected to use wooden bats because a majority of junior college conferences were making the move to wood.
"I really went to the wood bats because I wanted these kids to prepare for junior college," McCord said. "If they can swing the wood bat good, then the metal bats are going to be an easy transition."
However, according to McCord, with the advent of the BBCOR bats, a lot of conferences are choosing to switch back to metal from wood.
Because of this, he wants his players to get the experience of using both.
"I'm going to allow them to use metal bats this year," McCord said. "We bought a bunch of wood bats, and in the tournaments we are seeing a lot of metal, and they were, 'Can we use them?'"
KAHS Black team will open the season against KAHS Blue at 5:30 p.m. today. Last year, the teams split their regular season meetings.
KAHS Blue will host Southpointe at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday. They were originally supposed to play last Saturday, but the game was postponed because of weather.