With a starting lineup returning, which includes eight seniors, North Pulaski Coach Michael Dean is hoping the Falcons can escape its reputation for being at the bottom of the conference.
Dean and assistant Coach Jeremy Brown, who played pro ball, are also back. Although their roles have switched, nothing has changed. Last season, Brown was the head coach and left to pursue something else. Dean was promoted and when Brown’s thing didn’t pan out, he came back as the assistant coach.
"All the starters are back, and they know who we are," Dean said. "Unlike last year, we have so much to build on with everybody back."
Three seniors are expected to lead the team. They include twins Troy and Austin Allen and Alex Broadwell. Troy Allen is a four-year catcher, Broadwell plays shortstop and Austin Allen is in the centerfielder.
"When they go, we go," Dean said. "I expect all three to play after high school."
Junior Fred Thomas, a multi-sport athlete, is also expected to make a contribution. Senior first baseman Nathan Crews returns after not playing last year, and two freshmen, Ean Collie and Keyshawn Arnold, are expected to pitch.
Dean says North Pulaski’s main strength is its pitchers and catchers. He foresees the Falcons playing small ball and steal a lot. The weakness is the no tradition. The guys still need to learn how to win.
"In every sport, when we get down, we can see the guys say oh here we go again," Dean said. "We want to change that."
Dean may have seen a glimpse of that Monday night. In the Falcons’ first game, they defeated Little Rock J.A. Fair, 13-6. Leading 7-6, North Pulaski’s freshman pitcher started walking people. The seniors took over and all of a sudden the score was 13-6.
"That was different than last year," Dean said. "Somehow we found a way to win."
What Dean most likes about the team is the caliber of kids. He says there are no discipline problems and no waiting on grades to be made. Last year, he said everywhere they went they were complimented on how well-mannered and good the guys were.
North Pulaski played a doubleheader with Maumelle on Tuesday, meet Hot Springs in its first home game tonight and travel to Hazen tomorrow.