Preps: Load of lefties has DCA looking for another lengthy playoff run

Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:20pm

Catcher Neil Hickman will get a close look at an inordinate supply of left-handed pitchers this season for Donelson Christian Academy’s baseball team.

The top returnee is the ace of the staff, senior Taylor Wilson, who set a school record with 11 wins last season in leading the Wildcats to the state tournament.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hickman, a senior and Belmont signee, is the mainstay of DCA’s lineup after belting 10 home runs last year.

The battery of Wilson and Hickman ranks as good as any in Nashville.

After that, veteran Coach John Berti has the option sending out this quartet – sophomore Jamie Young, junior Daniel Mathis, junior Jared Goodman and freshman Doug Jones – all lefthanders – in no particular order. All are left-handers.

“Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage,” Hcikman said. “With all the lefties, that makes things a little trickier for opponents. I’m looking forward to catching them and see how they do.”

Foes might load up their lineup with right-handed hitters, but Berti has the confidence his DCA portsiders can hold down the fort.

“It’s something ... I’ve never had anything like it,” Berti said. “We have confidence in all of them. After those five, we go all the way to down to our backup catcher Jamison Manning for a right-handed pitcher. They all play other positions for us.”

Besides the legion of lefties, DCA returns a core group of players, who were part of a record-setting season in 2010 – the Wildcats set school records for wins (25) as well as home runs, RBIs and runs scored and advanced to the state tournament.

Gone from the lineup is Brad Warren, who hit a school-record 24 career home runs, including a single-season record 20 last year.

“That was a big loss, but with the guys we have coming back, we have the ability to score a lot of runs,” Berti said.

Hickman is gearing up for a return trip to state tournament.

“We had a team meeting recently, just prior to the season,: Hickman said. “Our No. 1 goal was to get back to state. I’m going to do everything I can this season to make sure that we do.”

DCA has gotten off to a 4-0 start in region play, with upcoming twin bill region games against FRA and USN.

Next up for DCA will be the eight-team Hit After Hit tournament Friday and Saturday at the Page and Ezell-Harding fields. The Wildcats open the event 3:30 p.m. Friday at Ezell and are in a pool with Ezell, Goodpasture and Giles County.

Finals are 7 p.m. Saturday at Ezell.

Highland Games at Ryan: Franklin Road Academy will continue its 13th annual Highland Games Saturday, with the event to be held this spring at nearby Father Ryan.

Middle and high school field events will begin at 9 a.m., with running events to start at 11 a.m.

All gate proceeds will be donated to the Bill Etheridge Memorial Fund as well as Personal Ponies of Tennessee.

Participating schools include Brentwood High, CPA, Lipscomb, Ezell-Harding, Ryan, Franklin, Harpeth Hall, Hillsboro, MBA, Overton, Stratford, Sovereign Grace and host FRA.

At noon, the Nashville Pipe and Drum Corps will take the field for the official opening of the games. The traditional bagpipes and drums will lead the athletes onto the field. There will be the Tug of Wars, Stone Toss and Kilted Run in additional to usual events.

Hooper resigns: Former Hillwood High coach Kris Hooper has resigned his position as boys basketball coach at Portland High after three seasons. The Panthers finished 4-23 the past season and were 15-66 during the three years.