After falling to Class 2A’s eventual state champion in the second round of last season’s playoffs, the New Brockton Gamecocks come into 2020 fired up to make a run this season.
The Gamecocks return all but three players from last season’s team that finished as runner-up in Class 2A, Area 5. Second-year head coach Will Hulsey said expectations are high this season.
“We’re too good not to win the area this year,” Hulsey emphasized. “This a group of talent that is made up to do something really good.
“Very rarely do you have this many talented kids come together in a small 2A school like this. I expect us to make a deep run this, as a result.”
Among New Brockton’s returners are offensive leaders like Drew Cashin and Clay Cotney. Cotney led the Gamecocks with a .325 batting average in 2019 along with six RBIs and 18 runs on the year, while Cashin hit 18 RBIs and two homeruns on his way to a .303 batting average.
Cashin is also a leader in a group of deep pitchers that includes sophomore Kaden Cupp and senior Ethan Stinson.
Stinson – who is coming off a serious elbow injury last season – threw 46 strikeouts and held a 4.582 ERA before the injury. Cupp and Cashin – who are stepbrothers – both had solid seasons on the mound last season, as well.
Cashin went 5-3 as a starter with a team-high 68 strikeouts and a 2.072 ERA. He also had 80 putouts and a .967 fielding percentage defensively. Cupp went 3-1 on the mound and struck out 25 batters with a 2.888 ERA along with 20 putouts and a .800 fielding percentage on defense.
Hulsey pointed to Cashin, Cupp and fellow sophomore CJ Wilkerson as three young players he’s expecting to step up as leaders.
“I hate to put pressure on sophomores but those are guys that you can put pressure on,” he said. “If we can get those kids to continue moving in the right direction we’ll be pretty good.”
Wilkerson had a team-high135 putouts and a .958 fielding percentage along with catching seven runners attempting to steal from his catcher position in 2019.
Cupp and Cashin have been contributors since their freshman seasons on both the baseball and football field, with Cupp serving as a starting quarterback. That experience can only benefit them, according to their coach.
“For Kaden to be a kid that started as a quarterback on a playoff football team was huge,” he said. “He’s really developed mentally and has grown up a lot mentally since this past summer, though. He and Cashin have to help lead this year.”
The Gamecocks will get the season started with four games on the road, starting with a doubleheader against Rehobeth and Geneva on opening day Feb. 15. New Brockton then travels to Carroll (Feb. 18), Elba (Feb. 20) and plays Houston Academy (Feb. 24) at Dothan’s “Hits for Heroes” series.
New Brockton finally gets open up its home schedule on Feb. 27 against Geneva County before hitting the road again to face Troy’s Charles Henderson on Feb. 29.
After another home game against Elba on March 2, the Gamecocks travel to Daleville for a doubleheader on March 3 and face TR Miller on the road on March 6.
Back at home, Daleville comes to town for another doubleheader on March 9 followed by home matchups with Geneva (March 16), Brantley (March 19) and TR Miller (March 20) in a four-game home stretch.
The Gamecocks will battle area foe Zion Chapel in back-to-back days, on the road on March 26 and a home doubleheader on March 27.
The regular season will close out with a series against area foes Goshen and Luverne. After a road game against Goshen on April 2, the Gamecocks will host them for a doubleheader on April 3. Then, New Brockton hosts Luverne on April 9 before the regular season finale doubleheader takes place at Luverne on April 10.