March 20, 2013 — With warm weather around the corner, there is something in the air at East Carter High School where the crack of the bat is one of the sweetest sounds you will hear.
The Raiders are coming off a 23-15 season with another 62nd District title and appearance in the 16th Region tournament. They anticipate they will battle with the likes of Ashland, Boyd County, Lewis County and many others to punch a ticket to Whitaker Bank Park in Lexington, the site of the state tournament.
“We’ve got a lot of experience returning and we have a chance to be pretty good,” Coach Jeremiah Shearer said. “It all depends on how we hit and score runs. We have a chance to be pretty competitive at the region level.”
East Carter has nine seniors and five juniors that are expected to contribute this season to keep up with winning yet another 62nd District championship (East has won nine of the past 10). Like many teams, in order to be successful in the postseason is to have pitching. With hurlers like Cole Boggs and Conner Staton, the Raiders are riding the arms for a shot at glory.
“Our pitching should be tops in the region,” Boggs said. “We’re all veterans and we have a couple of young kids that can throw. My expectations are high for us to win a district and region championship and I think our pitching can get us there.”
“This team is pretty fired up,” Staton said. “We want to win this region and go to the state tournament. We’re going to have a good field behind us but we have to hit the ball. If we take the right cuts, we’ll be fine.”
East Carter’s last trip to the ‘big dance’ was 2009, where their season abruptly came to an end in the semi state round to Lawrence County in three games. The Raiders have only one baseball state title and that was in 1984. But East feels like this is their time to finally make another run at a state championship.
The Raiders have much more to play for this season. One of their teammates Johnny Fankell died in a car accident on Feb. 23. The players and coaches are dedicating this season in his memory. They will hang his jersey and bag in the dugout each game this season.
“It opened up a lot of people’s eyes where life can change really fast,” Staton said. “We want to play for him every day. We’re going to play for 31.”
“He’s always on our mind,” Shearer said. “I think the kids are extra motivated to play for beyond just baseball.”
East Carter will open up the home portion of their season Friday against Fleming County.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.