HARD BALL AREA: UNDER CONSTRUCTION

After record setting year, replacing six starters of the utmost importance for rebuilding Tiger squad
Reporter/Bill Martin Chances are, if you look up rebuilding in the dictionary sometime in the

Led by Coach Jarad Richards (center), these nine seniors hope to keep the Tiger baseball program on the rise after a record-setting 2009 season of 22 wins. Led by Coach Jarad Richards (center), these nine seniors hope to keep the Tiger baseball program on the rise after a record-setting 2009 season of 22 wins. near future, you might

see a team photo of the 2010 Rockdale Tigers baseball team.

The Tigers are coming off a season in which they set a school record for victories (22) and re-entered the playoffs after a 10-year absence.

That, of course, is the good news.

The bad news is they lost six starters that packed up and took with them 11 home runs, 161 runs, 149 runs batted in, and arms that accounted for 16 of the 22 wins in 2009.

“People better not count us out just because we graduated a lot last year,” warns Coach Jarad Richards. “I expect that, but I think this senior group has something they want to prove. We lost a lot of great ball players, but then again this group of seniors has been pretty succussful as well (36 wins in the past two seasons).

Junior outfielder Dillan Schnerr is the Tigers’ top returning hitter. Junior outfielder Dillan Schnerr is the Tigers’ top returning hitter. “This year will be very interesting.”

Surprisingly, Richards believes his pitching staff will be the team’s strong suit, which was the case last season.

Justin Elliott will lead that group along with Greg Chelf, Brandon Gibbs and newcomer Duke Schneider will get a chance to throw in early tournament play.

Elliott (3-1, 4.11 ERA) looked brilliant in shutting down Taylor on a complete game, four-hitter in the first game of the quarterfi nal series last year and the senior righthander will be the bell cow of the hill.

Gibbs and Chelf were a combined 2-0 last season in 13 appearances.

With so many positions to fill and so little experience to fill them with, it may be a while before this team settles in and discovers its personalty.

Senior Greg Chelf will be counted on more this season to pitch. Senior Greg Chelf will be counted on more this season to pitch. “Defensively we’re going to have to experiment with some different positions,” Richards said. “There are a lot of question marks still in that area.”

Richards is going to have to rebuild his entire infield, which means replacing three all-state performers in catcher Nic Hammett (94 career RBI), third baseman Mark Drake (.400, 44 runs) and first-team all-state first base selection Chance Betchan, who socked in 48 runs batted in last season.

Joe Sanders, who started in the outfield and subbed for Hammett when he was on the mound, will start at catcher.

Richards is expecting a breakout year for the senior Sanders who played in just 13 games after healing up from a wrist injury he suffered during football.

Justin Elliott (center) turned in a gem last season against Taylor. Justin Elliott (center) turned in a gem last season against Taylor. “I look for production to increase from some other seniors that didn’t get many varsity at bats last year,” Richards said.

Chelf and Gibbs had only 48 combined at bats in 2009.

The Tigers top returning hitter is junior right fielder Dillan Schnerr, who batted .362, while cracking four home runs and socking in 31 RBI, which was second-best on the team.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound masher was a first-team all-district choice.

Senior designated hitter J.B. Debault was also a steady hand (.345, 22 RBI) and should move out onto the field at second base in 2010.

“Overall, we’ll keep our focus on the same thing we did last year, which is to play in May. We don’t care if we go in as one, two, or three, so long as we’re in.

“I think five of the district teams are pretty even and any of them could beat any other team anytime. I doubt very much we’ll see an undefeated district champ. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the district champ has two losses.

“We aren’t picked in the top three in most polls, but if our hitting comes on like I think it will, we’ll surprise some people.”

TIGER TRACKS— With seven starters returning, Cam- eron is picked as District 24-3A favorite. Defending champion Taylor (five returning starters, Eric Brooks not one of them) is next followed by Navasota (district offensive MVP Kye Hildreth)... Orangefield is rated as the best region III team while neighbor and future district mate Giddings is No. 1 in the state according to 3Abaseball. com.
TIGER FILE
Coach—Jarad Richards (4th year,
43-34)
2009 record—22-9
2009 district—8-4 (3rd)
Playoffs—Def. Huffman-Hargrave in
area; lost to Taylor in quarterfinals.
Key losses—1B Chance Betchan
(1st team all-state, 48 RBI); C/P
Nic Hammett (all-state, 94 career
RBI); P/3B/OF Mark Drake (allstate,
.400, 7-1); P/3B Billy Gonzalez;
SS Randy Korenek; 2B Chris
Yanes (1st team all-district).
Key returnees—Jr. OF Dillan
Schnerr (1st team all-district, .362,
4 HR, 31 RBI); Sr. C Joe Sanders,
(.256); Sr. 2B J.B. Debault (.345);
Sr. OF Brandon Gibbs (.222); Sr.
P/IF Justin Elliott (3-1); Sr. OF/P
Greg Chelf.
Key newcomers—So. Duke
Schneider; Jr. Casey Burrough; Jr.
Hector Garcia.

2010 ROSTER
No. Player Class Pos.
1 Brandon Gibbs Sr. OF/P
2 Reed Davidson Sr. IF
3 Duke Schneider So. IF/P
4 Hector Garcia Jr. IF
5 Nic Evans Sr. OF
7 Casey Burrough Jr. OF
8 Joe Sanders Sr. C
9 J.B. Debault Sr. IF
10 Justin Elliott Sr. IF/P
12 Derek Young Sr. IF
21 Thomas Betchan Sr. OF
22 Greg Chelf Sr. OF
44 Dillan Schnerr Jr. OF

2010 SCHEDULE
Feb 25-27 Bells Rival Classic TBA
Mar 2 Salado 4:30/7
Mar 4-6 Fairfield Tournament TBA
Mar 9 @Madisonville* 5/7
Mar 12 Bryan Rudder* 5/7
Mar 16 @ Navasota* 2/4
Mar 19 Caldwell* 5/7
Mar 23 Thorndale 6
Mar 27 @ Taylor* 5/7
Mar 30 @ Cameron* 5/7
Apr 1 Madisonville* 5/7
Apr 6 @ Bryan Rudder* 5/7
Apr 9 Navasota* 5/7
Apr 13 @ Caldwell* 5/7
Apr 16 Manor 7
Apr 20 Taylor* 5/7
Apr 23 Cameron* 5/7
* denotes District 24-3A game

RHS YEAR-BY-YEAR
2009 Jarad Richards# 22-9
2008 Jarad Richards 14-10
2007 Jarad Richards 7-15
2006 DeWayne Singletary 9-16
2005 DeWayne Singletary 4-20
2004 Larry Pipken 10-13
2003 Larry Pipken 4-18
2002 Larry Pipken 11-11
2001 Larry Pipken 8-14
2000 Larry Pipken# 17-11
1999 Larry Pipken# 18-12
1998 Larry Pipken 12-10-1
1997 Larry Pipken* 12-10
1996 Larry Pipken* 19-7
1995 Larry Pipken* 20-5
1994 Larry Pipken 11-13
1993 Larry Pipken 16-5
1992 Larry Pipken 14-8-1
1991 Larry Pipken 11-11
1990 Larry Pipken 12-9
1989 Larry Pipken 13-7
1988 Kenny Cmerek* 20-6-1
1987 Ken Moree 14-7
1986 Gil Hodges 10-9
1985 Gil Hodges 7-11
1984 Gil Hodges*# 16-6
1983 Jim Carson 11-11
1982 Jim Carson 13-10
1981 Barry Bynum 8-8
1980 Dickie Summers 7-14
1979 Perry Vass 7-8
1978 Perry Vass 6-18
1977 Leo Stroman 14-13
1976 Leo Stroman 8-14
1975 Leo Stroman 5-15
1974 Leo Stroman 14-7-1
1973 Tommy Cook 3-14
1972 Tommy Cook 13-9
1971 Ronnie Mudd 13-6
1970 Ronnie Mudd N/A
1969 Ronnie Mudd 6-11
1968 Ronnie Mudd N/A
1967 Ernie Laurence N/A
* District Champions
# Area champions


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