Beaufort News

New-look Ospreys optimistic

Count what the Beaufort Ospreys lost from last season and the numbers might appear grim.

Eleven of the 18 players on the Ospreys' roster were too old to return for the current American Legion baseball season, coach Bryan Thompson said.

But Beaufort has plenty of reason to hope for a good season.

Thompson, who takes over this season for Scott Mullen, coached the Junior Ospreys the past three seasons. His most recent junior team finished second in the state, two runs from a state championship.

And many of those pieces have moved up with Thompson as the Ospreys prepare for Tuesday's home opener against the Lowcountry Heat.

"I've coached almost everyone that's on this team before at least one year, most of them multiple years," Thompson said. "This is the same core."

Thompson sounded pleased with the Ospreys' rotation, which debuted last week during two non-league games against Orangeburg. With Joel Fickes, Luke Smith and the return of hard-throwing Junior Delatorre, Thompson feels he has three solid starters.

Each brings a different look.

Fickes relies heavily on a sinker ball to keep the ball low in the zone and force groundballs. Smith mixes a big curve and fastball. And Delatorre throws hard and tries to locate his fastball.

Delatorre started the Ospreys' first game against Orangeburg, allowing two hits through four innings before Thompson pulled his starters. Fickes earned the nod the second game.

Thompson said all three could be interchangeable, with the likes of Cam Thomas, Mitchell Stewart and Chris Linsday available in relief.

"I think we're going to pitch OK and play defense OK," Thompson said. "Whether or not we hit is yet to be seen."

There is little to wonder about with the core of the Ospreys' lineup. Beaufort High School teammates Mitchell Stewart, Mark Jones, Weber Pike, Kyle Dawson and David Tilton will carry a bulk of the load at the plate. Beaufort's order will be bolstered by Ryan Day, who batted more than .500 for Thomas Heyward Academy this past season.

"I think we have a core that's going to be pretty good; it's filling the other four or five spots," Thompson said. "I think (Nos.) 2-5, we're just as good as anybody."

Thompson said he still needed to nail down a corner outfield position and that there would probably be a rotation between second base, third base and center field. Last week's games were helpful for sorting those things out, he said.

Most of the Ospreys have played together so long, their defense has been solid as a result, Thompson added.

"If we can pitch and catch, I think we'll be all right," he said. "And I think we can challenge for League 1."