A deep pitching rotation is one of the keys to winning a nine-inning American Legion game.
Lincoln County Cardinals head coach Bruce Bolick said he prefers to keep his pitchers at less than 100 throws per game, meaning he’ll almost always use at least two pitchers per game.
But that shouldn’t be a problem for the team this year. Veteran left-handers Hayden Deal and David Scoggins are back for another season, as are South Lake Christian righty Bradley Hallman, North Lincoln’s Justin Norton and East Lincoln’s Darin Salter, Danny Sullivan and Nick Savoie.
“It could definitely be a strength,” Bolick said. “We have a lot more depth than we have had in the past. Pitching could be strong as long as it stays healthy. You can never get too much depth at pitcher. The schedule has us playing three games in a row on weekends. We have to have pitching because I’m not one to throw someone 120 pitches. A nine-inning game means you usually have to throw two pitchers.”
And it helps when your pitchers can also produce runs. Each member of the Cardinals’ rotation was an active member of their high school
team’s lineup. Bolick said he’s also expecting a strong defense.
“We’ll be more well-rounded,” he said. “We have some guys who can hit the ball, who have some experience. Defense will be good, especially when you have someone like Clay Hodges in centerfield.”
Hodges will also occupy the leadoff spot in the Cardinals’ lineup — the same spot he held on East Lincoln’s conference runner-up team this year.
“When he puts his mind to getting on base he gets there,” Bolick said. “He fought off pitches with two strikes against Queen City on Friday. He can create havoc.”
Another key player back for the Cardinals this year is Lincolnton graduate Jacob Hoover — the second five-year player in Post 455 history. Bolick said he’s been impressive at the plate so far.
“He’s hitting nothing but line drives right now,” he said. “He’s hitting shots. And he has a lot of speed.”
Despite all the rivalry talk during the high school season, Bolick said his team, which draws from East Lincoln, North Lincoln, Lincoln and Lincoln Charter in Lincoln County, is showing a good team spirit.
“They’ve played together on different teams growing up so they know each other,” he said. “Even with those rivalries, they’ve played together in the summer time. There seems to be a good chemistry with this bunch. I feel like they have a goal to play well into July. Some teams are satisfied with getting to July 4 and then to get going to the beach. I think this team has a higher goal than that. They want to take it as far as they can.”