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Coaches expect Hooper Colts to show growth in 2023

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos and graphics courtesy of Hooper Academy

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – The Hooper Academy Colts struggled to find their footing last season, finishing 2022 an abysmal 5-19. First-year coach Dusty Baker – by his own admission – realizes how close his team was to hitting rock bottom. 

But they didn’t start digging. They learned and in 2023 Baker hopes to see that experience translate into victories. 

Baker: “We started four ninth graders (in 2022). We have three of those returning along with a great group of seniors. Although our record was terrible last year, we did a lot of growing up. I fully expect that maturity to transition to the field this year.”

So far he’s seeing progress, the Colts put 13 runs on the board in a shutout win over Southern Prep earlier this month. 

Things are just getting started though as the Colts schedule grows incrementally more competitive. 

The Colts cap this week with a spot in the Fort Dale Tournament and will end the month in Auburn at Lee-Scott. To open May Hooper travels over to Lowndesboro for a berth in the Lowndes Tournament (March 2-4) and enters into an area series with Edgewood March 6 & 7). 

Baker: “In my opinion if you are going to play, you want to be the best. I’m trying to get our guys to believe in themselves. We tend to beat ourselves up. We are trying to eliminate that sort of thinking. The guys are working extremely hard to be the best they can be. It is a long, tough journey, but advancing to the playoffs is our goal. We will take it one game at a time and try to improve with each day. If we can do that, then how knows what might happen.”

What’s going to happen – and has happened – this season is the play of prospects Davis Henry (pitcher) and RJ Coker (catcher). 

Baker: “We will rely heavily on our Ace, Davis Henry, this year. Davis will be a senior and he really pitched well last year. We didn’t do too much to help him out from an offensive standpoint. We will rely on senior RJ Coker to lead us offensively. Although his average was down last year, he is a proven threat at the plate.” 

Beyond the aforementioned battery, Baker is expecting Junior Ron McGinty and the sophomore pairing of Slade Russell and Sam Moss to break out this season. 

Baker added: “I will be truly disappointed if we do not improve dramatically. I believe my boys will be disappointed if we have another season like last year. They have really bought in to what we are trying to do and believe in what we are capable of doing this year. 

The Colts – last season – advanced to the playoffs despite only having five wins and were throttled in the first round by Chambers. It’s not going to be an easy road back this season as they have to go through traditional AISA baseball powers Edgewood and Autauga. 

Baker: “Those two schools are extremely good baseball teams and are well coached. I’m hoping we can compete a little more with those guys this year. Our hope is to make the playoffs again, but be more competitive in those games.”

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, and managing editor.

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