MCARTHUR — Similar to its TVC counterpart Wellston, Vinton County felt last season was the year for everything to come together.
They were experienced, had solid pitching depth and was riding momentum from finishing second in the league alongside ending Athens’ TVC winning streak.
But the Vikings never got the chance to see what could have materialized from what would have been a group featuring multi-year starters.
Now, with six starters gone and a slew of young up-and-coming talent, the Vikings are just picking up where they left off and moving on.
“It’s definitely been a process working out way back, and we lost a lot of talent and leadership,” Vinton County coach Andy Barrell said. “That vocal leadership role is what we’re trying to push since we have a quiet senior class. We have some freshman who will see varsity action, so we need that leadership role.”
Despite some unknowns, Vinton County does return starters Zach Radabaugh, River Hayes and Zack Bartoe to the fold.
Radabaugh batted .250 with 13 hits, 13 runs scored and nine RBIs, while Hayes had a .275 batting average with 19 hits, 13 runs scored and 17 RBIs.
Bartoe, who will be the Vikings’ ace this year, batted .308 with 24 hits, including a pair of doubles and scoring 28 times. He finished with 3-4 record including a 3.68 earned run average and struck out a team-high 55 batters on the bump.
While those three players make up part of the infield, Parker Shonborn, Broc Love, Dawson Brown, Matt Sexton and Bryant Brisker will all see a lot of infield time as well as some pitching duties.
In the outfield, Keon Travis, Gabe Raschine, Quentin Campbell will see most of the time while guys like Carson Chanell, Jarrett Wells and Dylan Harper could see some action as well.
“We have some talented freshman and we’re hoping they pick up the speed of the varsity game as fast as possible,” Barrell said. “It’ll be an experiment and they’ll endure some pains, but we just need them to stay with it and continue playing hard.”
At the end of the day though, Vinton County’s goal remains the same, which is to compete for a conference championship. No matter how old or young the team is.
“TVC is always the goal, and although a lot of guys are new to the varsity level, we still expect to compete,” Barrell said. “If we can cut down on our errors, throw strikes and make the simple plays, we’ll be in a good position.”