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Tuesday, February 24, 2009What the Bisons lack in experience in the infield they make up for in versatility this season.
First base is a prime example with three players with the potential of spending time there. Freshman Tennyson Dodd, senior Justin Sanders and junior Ryan Wilkins are all in the mix.
“We have three first baseman and they all need to get into the game,” said Bisons coach Jeff Forehand. “We didn’t really need another first baseman, but we recruited Tennyson Dodd out of Murfreesboro Oakland because we couldn’t pass him up. He will have great career here and will find a place in the lineup early and often.”
Wilkins has played first, third and right field already this season in only three games.
“We moved Ryan from first base because we felt like he was the most athletic player to move and change positions,” said Forehand. “We know Ryan can play first and is a very solid defender at first base. We are trying to find out what is best for him.”
Tennyson and Sanders have played both first and also been in the lineup as the designated hitter.
“We will bounce them back and forth doing that,” said Forehand. “Justin has made some great improvements defensively. Justin is going to be one of our better hitters. He and Tennyson are both swinging the bat pretty good.”
Second base is also crowded with junior Andrew Nickerson, redshirt senior Clay Lehning, junior Brad Gooch, freshman M.L Williams and freshman Antonio Butler. Lehning will play at third some. Gooch is also third baseman.
“We can try to get different looks in the infield,” said Forehand. “I don’t think our lineup will be as set.”
Senior Branden Cadavid has made the move from third base to shortstop.
“He has been one of our best defenders for two years,” said Forehand. “He was probably a shortstop playing third base for us. He has the range, great body control and a great arm.
M.L. will be back-up at short. Clay can also play there.
With his switch to third Wilkins moves from one corner to another.
“Ryan will play a lot of innings at third base with Gooch and Lehning,” said Forehand. “We have to figure out how Wilkins is going to get in there and what is our best offensive team.
“Ryan was a shortstop in high school. He has shown us he has the hands to play third.”
There are three catchers in the rotation, with Wilkins serving as an “emergency” addition at the position. The challenge is to find someone or a combination of players to fill the catching equipment of Caleb Joseph, who left school after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the summer of 2008.
“We lost what some would argue was the best player in the conference last year,” said Forehand.
Getting the first shot at the position is junior Jay Moreland, a transfer from Vanderbilt. In the No. 2 spot is redshirt freshman Logan Hostetler. “Jay has waited his turn,” said Forehand. “He has been behind some good players at Vanderbilt and didn’t get an opportunity to play. And he was behind a good player here.
“He is ready for his opportunity just like Logan. It will more than likely be a split job for the majority of the year. One is a left-handed hitter and one is a right-hander. Both are very solid behind the plate. They are both eager for the opportunity. It does make a natural platoon situation.”
Freshman Chandler Wicks is a walk-on who will be trying to impress with his catching skills. Most of his season is expected to be spent in the bullpen.
“He is always in the bullpen,” said Forehand. “Chandler gets his reps in our intra-squad games. It is an unsung position. The pitchers really have to have that guy dedicated to them in the bullpen. Chandler knows that.
“Chandler is working on it and trying to get himself prepared. He will wait his turn.”
After playing at Auburn Tuesday the Bisons are at home for the first time this in doubleheader with Bradley Saturday at noon at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen. L. Marsh Stadium. The two teams will meet again Sunday at 1.