Havre coach Williams names Boyce team ace to open season
By Jason Shoot
Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves have dominated much of the past decade in the National League behind an impressive stable of pitchers that has perenially dominated opposing teams.
Havre Northstars coach Mickey Williams believes his team's success will likely balance on the ability of his pitchers to pull off the same feat.
"We're fortunate to have five or six really good pitchers," Williams said, noting Jared Boyce will likely open the season as the team's ace.
"(Boyce) had some real strong outings for us last year through the whole season, and he's our number one pitcher right now," Williams said. "He throws a fastball, change-up and a couple curves. He does a great job keeping hitters off-balance.
"He doesn't throw a lot of pitches, and he doesn't walk many people. If you don't walk people you give yourself a great chance to be successful."
Williams said his team has lost a few players from last year's team, but added his team is not exactly hurting for talent, either.
Garrett Hanson returns at third base, and Mike Kellam is back at shortstop to give the Northstars solid experience across the left side of the infield.
"Defensively, we're going to be pretty solid," Williams said.
The Northstars are lacking a big bat in the middle of the lineup though Williams said C.J. Reichelt and Kyle Sheppard are capable of putting some pop in the ball and he added he is likely to endorse a small-ball philosophy this year.
"We've had some pretty good power hitters, but our philosophy this year is a little more small ball," Williams said. "We're going to hit and run and do a lot of bunting.
"If we can manufacture a run an inning we'll win 90 percent of our games. We've got mainly contact hitters, but we have a few kids who can drive the ball."
Williams said his team has a bit of an advantage over the Havre Comets counterparts in that over the course of the 60-plus-game season his team is accustomed to the schedule, whereas the Comets likely are not.
"It's hard to explain to people just how tired you get," Williams said. "And it's not just physical, it's the mental part of it. Just keeping focused is a chore in itself. We're fortunate our kids have seen that kind of schedule. It helps in the aspect of keeping the bench alert and knowing their roles to play."
Williams did not speculate how his team will fare this season, but said, "We're known throughout the state for being very competitive. We're very respected around the state."