The early task facing Lowcountry Heat coach Chris Seelbach is a fairly simple one: find your guy on the mound.
Seelbach's American Legion Post 185 club had pitchers by the boatload a year ago, as Ryan Ward, Nic Levy and Andrew Dill helped lead the Heat to the final game of the opening round of the playoffs. Those three starters are no longer on the roster, leaving questions for Seelbach and new opportunities for others.
"That's the thing I'm trying to figure out," Seelbach said after Monday's season opener, a 10-8 loss to Goose Creek. "Who is going to be that guy? ... How am I going to pitch these guys out of the 'pen? That's a work in progress, because I don't have a lot of experience seeing these guys much."
Jake Kizer got the first opportunity, allowing four earned runs in four innings Monday. Bluffton High standout Chance Murphy helped his case for more playing time, too, allowing just a pair of runs in six innings of relief to go along with four strikeouts.
"I have fun coming out here doing this every time," Murphy said. "It's fun. It's my first year playing American Legion and everything, so I'm kind of getting the hang of things."
Murphy is one of four Bobcats on this year's roster, joining Sean Holm, Logan Phillips and Brooks Robinson. It's a mixture of players Seelbach likes to see.
"I think we're getting some inroads in Bluffton," Seelbach said. "Having some of those guys coming over and playing is a good thing. There's always been that 'Don't go over there and play because you won't play.'
"If you're purple and you can play baseball, you're going to play. ... It's nice to see it. It's good to have the community and everybody involved."
They certainly have a wealth of information to draw from, if nothing else. The running joke is no other Legion team offers the level of professional experience as that of the Heat, as Seelbach -- a former Braves pitcher -- welcomes assistant Dan Driessen to the club this year.
Driessen spent 15 years in the majors, 12 of which came in Cincinnati as part of the famed Big Red Machine. Sam Martin, another Heat assistant, was a minor leaguer in the Cleveland and St. Louis farm systems in the 1980s.
"We would have given anything, looking back knowing what we know now, to have that kind of knowledge and that kind of experience (to draw from)," Seelbach said. "I think it's fantastic for the kids. We told them to take advantage of it. Ask any questions you want."
Seelbach expects another solid team to take the field at Hilton Head High this summer, the latest one possibly featuring more offensive depth than in previous seasons. Hilton Head Prep's John Sheehan certainly thinks that will be the case.
"I think everybody is pretty excited to be back out here," said Sheehan, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a pair of stolen bases Monday. "We've got a lot of talent. The first game, everybody is a little nervous, but we're a pretty chill group. We're excited."
2013 Lowcountry Heat schedule
Home games in CAPS
Game time is 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
May 20 GOOSE CREEK
May 21 at Beaufort Ospreys
May 23 at James Island
May 28 MONCKS CORNER
May 30 at Goose Creek
June 4 JAMES ISLAND
June 10 at Moncks Corner
June 11 GOOSE CREEK
June 13 at Beaufort Ospreys
June 17 at James Island
June 19 BEAUFORT OSPREYS
June 20 MONCKS CORNER
June 24 at Goose Creek
June 25 BEAUFORT OSPREYS
June 27 JAMES ISLAND
July 2 at Moncks Corner
2013 Lowcountry Heat roster
Name - Position - School
Storm Grisham - 1B/OF - Hilton Head High
Jake Martin - SS/P - Hilton Head Prep
Caleb Martin - OF - Hilton Head High
John Sheehan - INF/P - Hilton Head Prep
Brooks Robinson - 2B/P - Bluftton High
Sean Holm - 3B - Bluffton High
Randy Young - INF/P - Hilton Head Prep
Kevin Campbell - C - Hilton Head Prep
Grant Youmans - OF/P - Patrick Henry Academy
Chance Murphy - 3B/P - Bluffton High
Logan Phillips - INF/P - Bluffton High
Reese Dolyniuk - OF - Hilton Head Christian Academy
Michael Perez - INF/P - Hilton Head High
Alec Ambrosic - P - Hilton Head Christian Academy
Tommy Cooper - 2B - Hilton Head High
Colin Grunder - P - Limestone College
Jake Kizer - P - Hilton Head High
Mat Clark - P - Hilton Head High