RAVENSWOOD - First year head coach Wesley Swain has a youthful enthusiasm about his 2013 Red Devil baseball team.
Serving as an assistant for 16 years under the now retired Red Devil skipper Doug Parrish has given Swain, a first team All State pitcher in 1991 and 1992 for Ravenswood something to reflect upon.
"I learned more about the game of baseball from coach Parrish than anyone else in my life. I just tried to soak up the knowledge and apply it in my own way. I am excited to be here and I intend to build a program based on strong fundamentals and hard work," said Swain.
Swain, who played baseball for coach Cal Bailey at West Virginia State was an assistant on the 1999 AA State Championship squad is assisted by Ben Queen and Dave Sullivan.
Ravenswood has 19 players on the roster, which are 10 more than signed up last season.
For the Devils, it will begin with two players who stuck out a tough year 2012 and excelled in the process, Devon Crews and Heath Burgess.
Crews hit a blistering (.425) with nine doubles, three homers and 21 RBI's. The Red Devil running back for the football squad only struck out four times all season.
"Last year was really tough, just having enough guys on the field to play," said Crews.
Burgess, who blasted a grand salami last season, hit (.394) with six doubles, two triples and 14 RBI's in 2012. Burgess moonlights as wing man for the basketball team and as a quarterback in the fall.
"Devon and I both worked on hitting and fielding fundamentals in the off season," said Burgess.
While the squad suffered through a (3-22) campaign, often barely having enough players to compete and once having to cancel due to a depleted roster, better days are ahead.
"I don't know that we have ever had a year where our numbers were that low," said Swain.
The skipper has his team believing that they are to play for their community and school before themselves and that playing for the love of the great game of baseball is really what it is all about.
"I am pleased with the youth and middle school programs. I think we have guys in there who were players and know the game. Fundamentals need to be taught at a young age so that we can focus on more advanced elements and techniques of the game when they get to high school," said Swain.
The skipper was tight lipped about his starting pitching but did say he was looking at a 3- man rotation. The coaching staff is still evaluating the hurlers and a healthy competition is taking place.
The Red Devils have three southpaws on the staff in James Carmichael, Will Schindler and Jesse Brown.
Carmichael stars for the Red Devil Soccer team.
The Outfield is still being evaluated but the leading candidates to chase down flies are seniors Will Schindler, soccer standout Mason Carte, Nick Ballard, junior Trace Boso and sophomores Ben Johnson and Thomas Sturm.
Johnson, Boso and Sturm are returners from 2012. Zach Miller and Ballard can also play infield positions and could platoon.
Sophomores Trey Hatcher and Isaac Crow will compete for time at the hot corner as will frosh Jonathan Watkins. Hatcher and senior Brad Titus, Ravenswood all-time leader in tackles will platoon at catcher.
First bagger duties will play out between junior Jesse Brown, Carmichael and frosh Logan Jarrett.
Thomas Higgins, P.J. Click and Corey Chenoweth will also compete for playing time.
Swain, who feels his approach to coaching is a hands on style and individualized to each players needs, looks to win more than just a few games.
"We expect to win some games through hustle, good defense and quality pitching," added Swain.
"I fully expect out hitting to come along and get better as the season progresses."
Red Devil Baseball pride is alive and well in Ravenswood. Look for coach Swain's boys of summer to kick off their season tonight as they host Riverside.