Sweetwater High School will field a very experienced baseball team today when the Mustangs open their 2013 season with a 7 p.m. home game against San Angelo Lake View.
The JV team will also begin its season today against Lake View at 5 p.m.
Ten players who earned at least all-district honorable mention in 2012 are back for a Sweetwater team that narrowly missed getting to the playoffs last year.
That includes four play-ers who earned first team all-district honors — junior first baseman Greg Aiken, junior pitcher James Clift, senior catcher Sean Morrow and senior outfielder Willie Norman. Senior outfielder Ryan Linebaugh and junior pitcher Kaleb Hoover were second team all-district picks this past season.
Morrow and Linebaugh are entering their fourth year as starters and Aiken and Norman their third.
Fifth-year head coach Roland Herrera, in fact, has returning starters at every single position. That in-cludes Clift or junior Step-hen May at second base, junior Dylan Bennett at shortstop, senior Cole Max-well at third base and both Hoover and senior Shawn Campbell in the outfield. May can also start at any of the other three infield spots as well as in the outfield.
Also expected to see time on the varsity are senior outfielder Gabriel Melen-dez, sophomore outfielder Isaiah McGee, sophomore infielder Hayden Reeves and freshman catcher Corey Mendez.
In addition to Clift and Hoover, Herrera has May, Aiken, Maxwell, Bennett, Reeves and possibly others who are available to pitch.
Herrera said experience isn’t the only positive thing about the current squad.
“They all love baseball and understand the game,” he said. “We’ve had some real good practices and we are probably a little ahead of where we were last year.”
In 2012, Sweetwater came within one inning of forcing a tie-breaker to decide the final district playoff spot.
“We’re going to come out here and do our best to get the job done,” Herrera said. “But we’ve got to stay consistent. We need to answer the challenge. So far they’ve responded well, and they know what to do and how to make adjustments. I’m pretty optimistic and impressed with our work ethic. You can tell they want to win.”