Patterson off to fast start in 2012

From Staff Reports

Patterson’s baseball teams have a history of slow starts, but no one told the 2012 club.

This season’s team hasn’t followed the blueprint jumping out to a 10-6 start.

“With the amount of offseason baseball and jayvee games these kids have played, this is a very experienced team,” fifth-year head coach Ryan Jensen said. “These kids have also had a lot of success here, and that builds on experience, too.”

Patterson starts three seniors, five juniors and a sophomore this season.

“We might not have a ton of seniors, but we’re an older group,” Jensen said. “We can’t use a lack of experience as an excuse.”

Last season’s ’Jacks got off to their traditional slow start before finishing just under .500 and losing in the first round of the playoffs to powerhouse E.D. White.

“These kids have won in other sports as well on the baseball field, and they are not satisfied with just making the playoffs,” Jensen said.

Patterson’s pitching staff has been solid so far this season.

“In the past I usually would have one guy to count on the mound, but this year, we have four solid starters,” Jensen said. “We have pitched good enough to win nearly every game. I think this is the best pitching staff we’ve had in my five years.”

Cameron Fontenot is the staff’s ace this season.

“He was ineligible last season because he transferred in,” the skipper said. “He throws strikes and that’s what we preach here, make them swing that … bat and see what they can do.”

Bryce Tabor, a junior left-hander, also got off to a fast start.

“He (Tabor) is throwing more strikes this season,” Jensen said. “Pitch count was a big issue for him in the past; he just threw too many balls. But he has been really effective this season, throwing strikes.”

Sophomore Spencer Landry, another transfer, also has beefed up the ’Jacks’ rotation.

“He is the most consistent guy on the team,” Jensen said. “He throws the most strikes.”

Landry also plays quarterback on the PHS football team.

Micah Gowan leads the Jacks’ relief staff.

“Micah has exceeded our expectations, and he’s a guy we trust going down the road,” the coach said.

Cameron Clements is the team’s closer in 2012.

“We would like to see him pitch every single game,” Jensen said. “He’s the hardest thrower we have, and we’re not trying to fool anybody when he comes in; we’re going to go up there and try to throw it by you.”

Clements was forced into the starting rotation last season because of a lack of arms, but the coaches only want to use him as a closer this season.

Tarrike Phillips and Deondre Skinner got late starts after basketball, but both will see time in relief roles.

Ryan Wade returns to catcher after arm injuries forced him to first base last year.

“He rested his arm all summer, so he’s back healthy and he has a really strong arm and understands the position; he’s our leader,” Jensen said. “He leads on the field with the way he plays.”

Fontenot will backup Wade at catcher in emergency spots.

“Cameron pitches so much for us that we have to limit his time behind the plate,” Jensen stressed. “But it’s good to have two very capable guys at catcher.”

Dallas Hamlett, the team’s designated hitter last season, will start at first base in 2012.

“He grew a lot defensively this summer,” Jensen said. “We made him play first base all summer, and he got better.”

Hamlett hit nearly .350 last season, so his bat also will be very big for the ’Jacks this year.

Chase Martin is the second baseman as he won the position in the offseason. Martin will bat in the nine spot this year.

Clements moves from third base to shortstop this year.

“Cameron has done a fantastic job at shortstop,” Jensen said. “He has been better than we expected early on. He’s a really good athlete … and he gets to a lot baseballs.”

Clements is a four-year starter at Patterson.

Landry and Fontenot will be at third base, depending on who’s pitching on a particular day.

Landry is a middle of the lineup hitter.

Tabor will play left field when he’s not pitching while hitting in the middle of the lineup.

“He’s really patient at the plate and draws a lot of walks,” Jensen said. “In fact, he should be a little more aggressive at the plate because he is a better hitter than he gives himself credit for.”

Jaydrick DeClouet returns in center field for the ’Jacks.

“He’s just a phenomenal baseball player, and it gets overshadowed by his football but there is no doubt in my mind that he could play college baseball as well,” Jensen said.

The speedy DeClouet will bat leadoff again this season.

“He can hit the ball hard, and even when he doesn’t, he’s usually safe then, too. He puts so much pressure on a defense with his speed on the base path.” Jensen said.

Gowan, a former second baseman, is the starter in right field, while Aaron Hazel also will see significant playing time as a defensive sub.

Patterson has dominated District 9-3A in football and basketball, but the district looks to be more balanced in baseball.

“Berwick is Berwick,” Jensen said. “You know they are going to be good every year. I think they are the consensus pick to win the district, but we are excited about playing them. Erath and North Vermilion are both young but talented, while Kaplan is a baseball school.”

Abbeville and Franklin bring up the rear but will be competitive.

“We’ve had a lot of battles with Franklin, a lot of close games,” Jensen said. “Coach (Allen) Randle does a great job with those kids.”

Patterson, who fell to North Vermilion on Tuesday, 11-7 in its District 9-3A opener, will continue district play on Thursday when it hosts North Vermilion. Both teams switched sites because PHS hadn’t completed installation of a new scoreboard as of Tuesday.

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