KCHS baseball rebuilding around 15 underclassmen

WORTON — Kent County High School varsity baseball coach Jason Conner is a realist, so he’s embracing the “underdog” tag of his youthful squad.

“It’ll be different, that’s for sure,” Conner, returning for a third year, said after the Trojans’ 1-2 start that includes back-to-back losses by shutout.

On the roster of 17, Trice Moore and Jack Walters are the only seniors.

There are three freshmen, five sophomores and seven juniors. 

Walters and 11 others are playing at the varsity level for the first time.

That collective inexperience helps to explain the errors — what Conner described as “fundamental baseball stuff” — that played into the losses to Mardela and Colonel Richardson on consecutive days last week.

“Growing pains,” he said when talking about the early-season challenges.

KCHS returns a solid nucleus from last year’s 11-7 campaign in Moore, sophomores Noah Iacona and Brennen “BB” Dean, and juniors Jace Conner and Tanner Beck.

Coach Jason Conner said he is looking forward to working with the new guys, and intends to be patient as they come along.

A consistent lineup has stated to emerge, which includes Walters, junior Liam Tidaback, who played jayvee ball last year, and sophomore transfer Brayden Wilson.

Jace Conner, Beck, Dean and sophomore left-hander Aiden Crouch, who was the MVP last year for the junior varsity team, will handle most of the pitching.

Sophomore Scottie Ford, another jayvee call-up, is the everyday catcher. Iacona can fill in if needed.

Around the bases are Iacona at first, Tidaback at second and Dean at third, with Jace Conner at shortstop when he is not pitching.

Moore has been starting in center, sharing the outfield with Walters, Beck and Wilson.

Walters and Beck also can play infield positions.

At the top of the batting order are Conner leading off, Iacona, Dean, Ford and Beck.

Of the first-year varsity players, Walters, Crouch (pitcher, outfield) and junior Wesley Townsend (first base, right field), another jayvee call-up, appear to be the most versatile. The coaching staff is hoping to bring the 6-foot-4 Townsend along as a pitcher.

The newcomers include freshmen David Shaw, Nate Sutton and Caiden Pritchett, and juniors Skakur Wilson, Robert Ervin and Noah Taylor.

Kent County is fielding a varsity-only program this year; no cuts were made.

The Trojans opened with a 9-7 win in extra innings at Washington on March 21. Jace Conner (seven strikeouts) started on the hill and threw the maximum 105 pitches allowed before giving way to Dean (one strikeout) in the last of the sixth.

“We had some errors (six), which is why Washington hung with us,” Jason Conner told The Evening Enterprise in a text message.

Kent totaled 12 hits, led by Jace Conner (walk) and Iacona with three hits apiece.

Beck (double) and Dean each had two hits, and Ford (two walks) and Wilson (walk) each singled.

Kent County lost to Mardela, 12-0, in its first home game on March 25; Mardela pushed seven runs across the plate in the sixth inning.

The following day, unbeaten Colonel Richardson (4-0) at home skunked Kent, 9-0, with Jordan Regulski, Jack Walls and Daniel Hesson combining for a no-hitter. 

Weather and field conditions permitting, Kent County is home Wednesday, April 3 against Cambridge. The first pitch is at 4 p.m.

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