Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mundy’s Mill has high expectation for sophomore pitcher Ricky Butts, who has worked his way into the Tigers starting rotation this season.
JONESBORO — Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith has been in this position before, so he knows that good things are in store for his team down the road.
For now, however, the Tigers are working their way through a roller coaster rebuilding season.
With only one senior on the roster, Smith has had to rely on several young and experienced players to play major roles this season.
“I said at the beginning of the season, if teams are going to get us, they better do it this year,” Smith said.
And the coach could be right.
Mundy’s Mill pitching rotation is sparked by a pair of sophomores — Ricky Butts and Jordan Robinson. Unfortunately Robinson has been out with a injury, but is expected back before the season ends on Wednesday.
If the two continue to progress, the Tigers could see themselves challenging for a region title.
“They have pitched well all year,” Smith said. “They are very skilled kids, who have allowed us to compete all year. Mistakes at the wrong time has been a killer.”
Butts started the season in spot pitching duties, but has emerged with the injury to Jordan. Smith says he throws in the low 80s.
“We have some promising young players,” Smith said. “With another year of experience, we should be really good. Next year, we should be a different team.”
Mundy’s Mill is 9-11 overall and 7-10 in Region 4-AAAAA, good enough for seventh place in the 11-team region.
This is a far cry from last season when the senior-laden Mundy’s Mill team challenged for the Region 4-AAAA championship and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But several talented members of that team graduated, which left the Tigers in rebuilding mode.
Smith said the team has played well, but seem to hit a point in a game, where errors have cost them. In a region that boost playoff contenders like Whitewater, Starr’s Mill, Ola, Union Grove and McIntosh, Smith said mistakes have to be avoided to compete.
“We haven’t played to our full potential,” Smith said. “We have shown signs that we can compete and be a pretty good team. It has been small mistakes that have cost us in a competitive region.”
Also, the Tigers are without standout junior infielder Rodney Smith, the coach’s son. The younger Smith is recovering from knee surgery from an injury he sustained during football season.
Last season, Smith hit over .400 and has a reliable glove in the field.
“It has hurt the team not having him out there,” Patrick Smith said. “With Rodney, we are definitely solid up the middle. Not having him kind of puts us at a disadvantage because of his skill set and his stick and speed.”
Smith praised the efforts of infielder DeMarcus Mays, a junior, and Raheem Jackson, the team’s lone senior. The coach is optimistic about the future with the majority of the team returning.
“I’ve learned to be patience this season,” Smith said. “I know we will make the adjustments to be a successful team in the future. We will be better next season. I like this team because they never quit.”