PREVIEW: Malden baseball squad looks to rely on young pitching

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Pictured is the 2020 Malden High School baseball squad.

The Malden Green Wave baseball program enters the 2020 season in search of its third straight district title.

“We’ve had a pretty good run since I’ve been here,” Malden coach Tim Harmon said. “We’ve either competed for the district title or been right there in the semifinals so we are looking forward to another run this year.”

Malden has three seniors, five juniors, and a dozen underclassmen on its 20-man roster.

“We’ve got some youth in our program,” Harmon said. “And almost all of our pitchers are underclassmen. You can look at it how you want to look at it. It’s good for the future. But anytime you put inexperienced pitchers on the mound you don’t know how they will handle certain situations. We will try to get them prepares early in the year so they will be ready late in the year.”

The Green Wave have the luxury of returning four hitters in its lineup that got significant playing time as sophomores on a squad that averaged

“I like what I have back,” Harmon said. “Four of these sophomores started last year so they have plenty of experience.”

Four-year starter Shay Amoss, who played on the 2018 Malden state championship squad, is projected to be a top slugger and defender in the lineup.

“He’s been our starting third baseman,” Harmon said. “He’s been a cornerstone for us since he was a freshman.”

Malden’s two other seniors - Brandon Phelps and Brandon Heck - are looking to make noise after suffering injuries.

Phelps underwent arm surgery his junior season.

“He’s a reserve outfielder that may get a chance to play some in the outfield this year,” Harmon said. “He had a labrum tear last year and was out all season with arm surgery so he’s looking to get back in baseball shape.”

Heck is out for baseball after missing football season after suffering a knee injury.

“He’s very athletic,” Harmon said. “He tore his knee in football and didn’t get a chance to play football. He’s an athletic kid that just wanted to be part of something so he’s going to try his hand at baseball.”

Bladen Perry, who was the No. 2 starter on last season’s Malden squad that allowed 6.1 runs per game, is expected to anchor the rotation.

“He was our No. 2 guy last year,” Harmon said. “He’s a left-hander that does a good job mixing his pitches.”

Ethan Campbell is also a top candidate to eat up innings on the mound for the Green Wave.

“He was in the mix last year,” Harmon said. “He was actually on the mound last year at the end of our extra-inning playoff game against Saxony. He ate up a lot of innings.”

Harmon believes incoming freshman Cooper Thomas is also a candidate to blossom on the mound.

“We’ve got high hopes for him,” Harmon said.

Junior Hunter Wills and sophomore Chapen Riley are also in the mix to pitch for the Green Wave.

“Hunter has looked good so far in practice so he will probably get a look,” Harmon said. “We are going to use a lot of arms. Several of our underclassmen will get opportunities to pitch.”

Harmon hopes to be in the mix in the six-team Bootheel Conference despite putting a youthful squad on the diamond. The Green Wave won the Bootheel Conference Tournament in 2018 before Portageville beat Campbell in the conference championship last season.

“It will be tough in the conference,” Harmon said. “South Pemiscot has a nice bunch. Coach House does a good job down there. Campbell also has a good bunch coming back with Coach Campbell. Portageville is also always tough. Senath-Hornersville and Caruthersville may be looking to rebuild a little bit. I think we will be in the mix, but anymore with the pitch counts the conference games are secondary to district games.”

District classifications and assignments will be announced for baseball on Friday. Harmon thinks it is likely his squad will remain in Class 3. Saxony Lutheran beat Malden 9-8 in 11 innings last season on its way to a third-place finish in Class 3.

“We’ll see this Friday but I think we will be in Class 3 based on looking at where we were at last season,” Harmon said. “I think we will be in the mix in Class 3. I think there will be several contenders on the bubble that could fall in Class 2, Class 3, or Class 4.”

Malden Baseball Schedule

3/21DexterHome/10 a.m.
3/21ClearwaterHome/2 p.m.
3/23HolcombAway/11 a.m.
3/24East PrairieAway/4:30 p.m.
3/26Twin RiversHome/4:30 p.m.
3/30CampbellHome/6 p.m.
3/31KennettAway/4 p.m.
4/3CaruthersvilleAway/4:30 p.m.
4/4West CountyCharleston/2
4/7NMCCHome/4:30 p.m.
4/9PuxicoHome/4:30 p.m.
4/10South Pem.Away/1 p.m.
4/11KellyAway/11 a.m.
4/11Scott CityKelly/1 p.m.
4/14OranHome/4:30 p.m.
4/17-18Malden Inv.Home/TBA
4/23PortagevilleHome/6:15 p.m.
5/2-5/7Bootheel Trn.TBA/TBA
5/9CooterHome/11 a.m.
5/9EllingtonHome/3 p.m.
5/12Van BurenHome/4:30 p.m.
5/13SaxonyAway/4:30 p.m.
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