Returnees give Royals hope for turnaround




EASTERN HANCOCK

Head coach: Chad Coughenour, ninth season

2013: 2-20. Lost 9-4 to Union County in 2A Sectional 41 quarterfinal.

Last sectional title: 1976

Key losses: Outfielder Cody Wallace (.207) was the squad’s lone senior. He ranked second on the team with nine stolen bases in limited action (15 games) due to injury.

Outlook: Underclassmen made up the bulk of the Royals’ 2013 contingent and, not surprisingly, they struggled to get wins. Last year’s freshmen and sophomores, however, have become 2014’s sophomores and juniors, and EH should make considerable improvement in the Win-Loss column. Among the key returnees: juniors Cole Fout, Austin Lacy and Devon Wagoner. Fout, an All-County selection, was one of only three county players to hit at least .400 last season. The other two were current Ohio State Buckeyes Curtiss Irving of Greenfield-Central and Troy Montgomery of Mt. Vernon. Fout, a catcher, hit .400 and led the Royals in RBI (19), walks (13), hits (26), triples (2), on-base percentage (.519) and slugging (.569). ... 2B Lacy ranked second on the team with a .288 average and was tops in stolen bases (11) and runs scored (16). ... Wagoner was valuable on the mound, notching a 2.33 ERA in a team-high 42 innings. ... P/IF Tom Barton ranked second on the squad with 28.1 IP last year as a freshman and recorded a 4.45 ERA. Senior Austin Denny (.281) will see action as designated hitter. ... Sophomore CF Garek Ferguson is tentatively slated as the Royals’ leadoff hitter, followed by Lacy, Fout, P/SS Wagoner, junior 1B Dave Johnson, junior RF Austin Clutinger, junior LF Brandon Reid and Denny. Juniors Robbie Leffew and Kirby Petry and sophomore Dwight Duzan are also in the mix and could see time at 3B and other slots.

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