Coach prepares for next season

By Kevin Eckleberry

June 13, 2014

With his baseball camp out of the way, LaGrange College baseball coach David Kelton will be back on the road as he looks to fill out his roster for the 2015 season.

Kelton, who recently completed his first season as the Panthers’ head coach, has been busy during the spring and summer getting a look at prospective players for his team.

One of those future Panthers is former LaGrange High pitcher Logan Hood, who announced in May that he’ll be joining the LaGrange College team.

“Coach (Steven) Brown and I, we hit the road just about every week,” Kelton said. “We hit the Florida top 100 last week, we went to Alabama one week. We’ll be in Georgia the next couple of weeks.”

Kelton is looking to strengthen a team that struggled at times last season on the way to a 14-23 record, and the Panthers were 10-14 in the USA South.

The Panthers did close the season on a positive note, though, winning six of their final 10 games, including their last two games.

It was a learning experience for a lot of players getting their first taste of college baseball.

Many of the every-day players were first-time starters, and a handful of them were freshmen.

“We really finished strong,” Kelton said. “We finished a lot better obviously than what we started. We gained momentum.”

The Panthers only lost two seniors, pitcher Gage Mooney and catcher Kyle Nerbonne, so nearly the entire team will be returning.

That includes a trio of players with local ties.

Former Callaway Cavalier Chris Laye, an outfielder, was one of the team’s top hitters with a .299 batting average, and he was third on the team with 19 RBIs.

Third baseman Jim Reed, a former Troup Tiger, played in every one of the Panthers’ games, and while he only hit .219, he was second on the team with 25 runs scored, and fourth on the team with 35 hits.

Another former Troup Tiger, pitcher Jarred Adams, had a strong freshman season.

He started nine games and went 3-4 with a solid 3.04 earned run average.

The returning players, mixed in with the newcomers, will make for some “great competition” according to Kelton.

“We have new guys coming in to maybe push some of (the returnees),” Kelton said. “We’ll be able to fill some positions where we need somebody to step in.”