May 5, 2009
Rome, Ga. - Success doesn't necessarily have to be measured by wins and losses - one look at the kind of season the Shorter baseball team had bears testimony to that.
Indeed, there were more downs than ups for the Hawks, who after getting off to a positive start fell victim to a pair of losing skids that took the squad off its track and resulted in a disappointing 18-31 campaign.
Yet despite the bottom line figure, the Hawks and coach Matt Larry can point to a wealth of positives, which continues to be a strong tradition within the program and creates optimism for the future.
"A lot of people said we were a young team and I guess we were when you look at the roster," said Larry, noting that this year's squad will lose just five seniors to graduation. "I thought we were more mature, but I do know that next year we will be.
"They know what needs to be done," Larry added. "We had high expectations and we didn't meet them. So now we'll carry that over."
What will carry over is the bulk of the Hawks' squad, including several players who turned in solid seasons this year such as sophomore Blake Chapman, who served Shorter in a dual role first as an infielder and then a starting pitcher where he posted a 5-6 record and a 5.65 ERA.
"This was the first year he's really thrown a lot," Larry said of Chapman, who although he hadn't pitched in two years answered the call to help the Hawks on the mound. "He was a young guy out there."
Larry can also point to another Hawk who went above and beyond the call, and also returns for he 2010 season - Pepperell High product Jake Broome, who was the team's NAIA Champion of Character award winner.
Although Broome played most of the season with an arm injury, the junior finished the year hitting .389, driving in 23 runs and crossing the plate himself scoring 35 times.
"He was hurt all year," Larry said of the outfielder. "He should have had surgery but he wanted to keep playing and help the team any way he could."
Scott Morris, Shannon Houston and Will Davis are included as the veterans that will try to carry over solid outings this season into 2010, while catcher Cody Barnes will bring back the determination he showed this year when he came in from the outfield to anchor the spot behind the plate when injuries depleted position's depth.
What the Hawks must overcome is the loss of two of its top starters and its leading hitter, all who have ended their college careers - senior pitchers J.P. Griffin and Dustin Bowers, and senior outfielder Pat Langley, who transferred to Shorter after a stellar three-year career at LaGrange College and capped his career on a positive note.
Named an All-Southern States Athletic Conference Second Team selection, the former Model High standout led the Hawks in batting this season with a .421, in slugging with a .610, in doubles with 16, and was third in home runs with five. He added on an impressive 33 RBIs in the 45 games he started in.
"Shorter was a good fit for him," Larry said of Langley. "It was what he was looking for.
"We still have hopes he will be drafted," the coach added, noting that the Phillies have expressed interest in Langley. "He has all the tools."
And tools is what Larry feels the Hawks will have a lot of when they return to the diamond in 2010, tools in the form of both good and bad experiences.
"Not finishing games off - that's what hurt us a lot this season," Larry said. "But we can correct that during the summer and next fall. I'm looking forward to next year."