IA should be strong on the diamond as team tries to defend its AAA title in 2019By BY PAUL PUTNAM FOR THE E-T,
IA Head Baseball Coach Clete Putnam has been making the rounds to Indianola’s civic clubs, as his team hopes to hit the field for the first time next week. To the left, he stands with Lion Brady Smith, and to the right, he stands with Rotarian Mitchell Hill.
For The E-T
Indianola Academy is quickly becoming a powerhouse baseball program.
With three seniors already committed to play college ball – including Josh Hill’s offseason commitment to Mississippi State – there is good reason to believe the 2019 Colonels will make a deep run and try to defend their AAA State Title.
IA Head Coach Clete Putnam made the rounds in the last week to speak to the Indianola Lions Club and the Indianola Rotary Club.
At this point, Putnam is weary of the speaking circuit, and he is ready to get some innings in on the field.
In fact, he’s ready to just get some practice in on the field.
Last week’s week-long rain storm prohibited the team from even taking batting practice outside of the team’s indoor facility at IA.
“So far this season, we are 0-4, and we’ve lost each game to Mother Nature,” Putnam joked on Tuesday at the Rotary meeting.
He did say, however, that the indoor practice building has been a help on the offensive side and the pitching side.
“It’s been a blessing to have it. We’ve got a lot done, but the kids have cabin fever,” Putnam said. “We just want to practice outside.”
The indoor facility does come equipped with batting cages and an elevated mound, which Putnam said has been helpful.
Prior to it being built, Putnam said most of the indoor practices took place in the school cafeteria or the gym.
When the 2019 Colonels do finally take the field, the team will feature much of the same starting roster as last year’s state champions, only bigger, better and more mature.
In his junior season, Josh Hill tossed 69 innings and had 124 strikeouts to just 23 walks.
“He is going to challenge hitters all the time, and he is going to get outs,” Putnam said.
Will Davis, who was on the mound when the Colonels clinched the title, threw 53 innings in 2018 to go along with a 1.99 ERA.
Reed Junkin will round out the top three pitchers in the rotation. He compiled a 1.88 ERA last season.
With earned run averages like that, a team doesn’t always have to score 10 runs to win, but the Colonels put up their share in 2018.
“These cats are getting bigger and stronger, and that ball is going farther than it used to,” Putnam said.
The Colonels hit 25 homeruns as a team in 2018, with Wesley Lester leading the pack with 11, to go along with 48 RBI. Spencer Roberson had six homers.
Putnam said he is looking to pick up games whenever he can, just to get some innings in on the field. Hopefully, he’ll be ready for a tough spring break tournament coming up in March in Vicksburg.