With the entire roster back from last season, the Prairie View expects to improve upon last year's 8-7-2 mark and third-place MAIS District 3-2A finish which saw the team miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Dan Smart, a former Louisiana College pitcher, was promoted to head coach and guided the team through summer league play.
“We played 20-something games this summer, which really helped us out,” Smart said. “The summer schedule gave us a head start on defining where everybody is going to play and what their role is going to be. Everybody knows what's going on. With all the rain we've had, it's been hard to get on the field, so the summer really made a difference.”
Junior left-handers Maclendon Sharp and Matt Reed and sophomore righty Tristen Shanks form a strong solid starting rotation.
Sharp emerged as a dominant workhorse in 2012, compiling a 6-2 record with a 1.84 earned run average. Working a staff-high 57 1/3 innings, he struck out 71 batters, while walking only 22. Sharp's .480 batting average was also tops on the team.
Shanks won his only varsity decision, while posting a 2.46 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.
Reed enters his fifth year in the starting rotation.
Austin McDonald (sr.), Layne Gray (so.) and Levi Humphrey (sr.) are available in relief.
Seniors Andrew “Dirty” Jenkins (.351) and Josh Daigle (.290) are the catchers.
“I'm very blessed,” Smart said. “I have three good starting pitchers, two good catchers and I can move people around all I want to. I'm pretty happy about that.”
Humphrey (.275, 15 RBI) is the incumbent at first base, with Reed also figuring into the mix.
Gray and Cole Bryan (fr.) are the second baseman, while Chyenne Mayo (jr.) slides over from second base to short. McDonald (.304) enters his fourth year as the starting third basemen. Daigle, who started at shortstop last season, provides quality depth at third and short.
Sharp holds down center field when not on the mound. Cody Kinnaird (so.), Reed, Brandon Jacobs (jr.), Ross Blackard (so.) and Tommy Hill (sr.) round out the deep outfield.
Reed and Jacobs just reported to camp last week from basketball.
The top four spots in the lineup are pretty much settled with Mayo leading off, Shanks in the two slot, Sharp in the three hole and Daigle batting cleanup.
“These guys have been playing together for two or three years now,” Smart said. “That makes a big difference.”