Coming off a disappointing 2005 season, the Bevill State Bears are ready to put the past behind them and concentrate on the future. A future which head coach Joey May believes will rest heavily on his returning sophomores.
?We have a group of strong sophomores who possess a solid work ethic and strong leadership qualities. They are tough-minded and resilient,? May said. ?Based on our fall schedule and from what I?ve seen in practice, I really believe there are good things to come for us in the 2006 season.?
Led by captains Thomas Nelson and Clay Gilliam, both sophomores, the Bears will focus on success on and off the diamond this season.
Nelson, who is from Weaver High School in Anniston, AL, will be playing shortstop and spot pitch during the 2006 campaign. Currently, he sports a grade point average of 4.0.
?Thomas is the hardest worker I have ever coached,? May said. ?He?ll put in the time and effort it takes to play his best whether we?re facing a rival or just practicing. And Clay is a tough young man who will be responsible for catching our young pitching staff. He has strong leadership qualities and expects the best from himself and other players.?
Gilliam is from South Lamar High School in Millport, AL. As a senior, he led the Stallions to a second place finish in the state. He?ll be returning as catcher for the Bears in 2006.
Other sophomores include centerfielder Jarrett Shepherd, a native of Northport who signed with the Universityof North Alabamaduring the fall signing period.He was a three-time American Legion state champion as a member of Tuscaloosa Post 34, and in 2003 and 2005, Shepherd and his team were runners-up in the Southeast regional tournament.
"Jarrett possesses great speed and strong leadership skills.He?s a great fielder, and he's great in the classroom, too, maintaining a 3.5 grade point average," said May.
Seth Richards is a dual player from Fayette High School who will pitch in conference games and compete at third base for playing time. During the fall, he led the team in ERA, and he is in the top three in batting average. Alan Bowen is from Fayette High School and is also a dual player.
?Alan Bowen has made tremendous strides in the weight room and is a knuckleball pitcher who will also compete for playing time at third base.?
Brad Burroughs is also from Fayette High School. According to May, Burroughs is a strong athlete with great offensive potential.
?Brad has all the tools to be an outstanding player who will compete in the outfield and hit in the middle of the batting order,? May said.
Second baseman J.J. Buchanan is from Saks High School in Anniston and is one of May?s most improved players from last year?s club.
Chad Kerley rounds out the sophomore class. A transfer from Murfreesboro, TN, Kerley is a 6?4, 230 pound catcher who will be coming off a dislocated elbow in the fall but should be at full health for the spring season.
?J.J. is a phenomenal athlete with unlimited potential,? May said. ?And Chad will be a great asset to our team. I?ve seen what he can do, and I know he will help us get where we want to go.
?I look forward to the 2006 campaign,? May continued. ?And although we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, I believe this group of young men will help lead us to great things.?