BOONVILLE - Replacing three Division I ballplayers is no easy task.
But Starmount skipper Mike McCann and the Rams will have to fill the shoes of last years’ stars Dillon Dobson, now at Appalachian State, and Western Carolina freshmen Dillon Bray and Alex Barr as the 2013 season kicks off today.
The new-look Rams host Mountain Valley Conference 1A power West Wilkes today in Boonville on opening day.
Coming off an 18-8 (12-4) season that culminated with a conference tournament championship, McCann will turn to a new crop of seniors this season, led by power right-hander Tanner Mathis.
Mathis hit nearly .500 last season (.493) with three home runs, while posting an 8-2 mark on the mound with a 1.55 ERA and 61 strikeouts in just 54.2 innings of work. The senior will be the leader and workhorse with the departure of the Dobson, Barr and Bray.
Starmount will also rely on seniors Samuel Stone, Nathan Williams, Zack Worley, Jeremy Whitaker and Hunter Myers this season.
Returning all-conference honorable mention Luke Shore highlights a young core of underclassmen.
As a freshmen, Shore hit .328 with 12 RBIs in the 2-hole in the lineup and provided an offensive spark for the Rams as a rookie sensation.
Junior varsity stars Ben Combs, Sawyer Davis, Wesley Cook, Blake Cheek and Caleb West received call-ups to the varsity level and will provide McCann depth from the bench.
After tonight’s season opener, the Rams will host East Surry and Surry Central next week in non-conference tilts before traveling to Ashe County next Friday.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.