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Tiger squad features new faces

When the Greenville High School baseball team hits the field Monday for its season opener, there will be plenty of new faces on the field.

One of those will be first-year head coach Evan Kelley. Kelley was hired Jan. 2 to guide a Greenville program that won 20 games in 2011 before being bounced from the playoffs by Chilton County High School.

“In a lot of ways we’re starting over,” Kelley said. “There were a lot of seniors on that team last year that aren’t here this year. We’re going to need some guys to step up and fill the roles that those seniors left.”

An area hit particularly hard by graduation was the Tigers’ pitching staff. Rush Nimmer and Raymond Moody tossed the majority of the innings for Greenville a season ago. Both have now moved on.

Greenville does however return junior right-hander Ozell Carter, who Kelley expects to be the ace of the staff.

“He’s got some experience,” Kelley said. “He threw a good bit last year, and he’ll be our No. 1 starter this year.”

Seniors Jerome Cook and Paul Hartley will also see action on the mound for the Tigers.

“We don’t have a lot of experience — varsity experience — on the mound, but I think these guys have a chance to be a good pitching staff,” Kelley said.

“We probably won’t overwhelm a lot of people, but they have good arms and if we can keep the ball in the strike zone I think they can help us win some games.”

Kelley said the Tigers, who lack a true power hitter, will depend on pitching and defense to win games.

“We aren’t going to hit a lot of home runs,” he said.

“We’ll have to move runners around by putting the ball in play, but the key for us will be good pitching and solid defense. If we can do those two things, I think we have a chance to have a good team.”

Kelley and the Tigers won’t have to wait long to find out just how good they will be this season. Greenville opens the season Monday with a doubleheader against Straughn High School before facing off with Andalusia High School and Gulf Shores the first week in March.

“We’re going to be tested early,” Kelley said.

Greenville and Straughn will face off at 3 p.m. Monday in Andalusia.