Unlike a lot of high school baseball teams around the area and state, the Ravenswood Red Devils of head coach Wes Swain actually played a game.
Swain’s Devils took on St. Albans, the Class AAA state champion two out of the last three years, in a scrimmage back in March before the 2020 season was suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus.
Swain tells his players all the time, “Play the game like it might be your last.”
He hopes this won’t be the case as all spring sports coaches – baseball, softball, tennis and track and field – are keeping their fingers crossed some type of season will unfold.
Of the St. Albans scrimmage, Swain, the eighth-year head coach and former Devil standout, said, “It was really good for our kids. It’s good to face a program like St. Albans. They’ve got a lot of kids who are serious about baseball. We tell our kids when we play someone like that to gauge where they are. It’s a high profile program.
“We have a lot of kids who say they want to play college baseball. It’s a lot of work.”
Swain entered the season without the services of two key players gone from the program due to graduation.
Ciah Kennedy was a three-year starter at first base and Jacob Hatcher, who turned out to be one of the team’s better players last year in his only season with the program as a pitcher, outfielder and infielder.
Seniors on this year’s team include Kenley Hickman, a catcher/pitcher who had shoulder surgery in the offseason.
“He’s worked his way back. We have big plans for him,” Swain said.
The senior class also features the likes of Hayden Swain, outfielder/pitcher, Sam Sturm, outfielder/pitcher, infielder Austin Anderson and Alex Gwynn, infielder/outfielder.
The junior class is made up of Ben Queen, infielder/pitcher and Jacob Adkins, pitcher/third baseman.
Sophomores are Cameron Taylor, pitcher/infielder, who Swain says “he’s going to be a nice player.” Ashton Miler, catcher/pitcher, who Swain calls “a talented kid.” Caleb Lawrence, outfielder/pitcher, Blake Ball, first baseman/pitcher, Daniel Coberly, outfielder, Dawson Coberly, outfielder, Brandon Bragg, infielder/outfielder, Brett Parsons, infielder/outfielder, Isaiah Casto, outfielder, John Eden, outfielder and Xavier Rodriguez, outfielder/catcher.
The freshmen class is made up of Austin Curry, second baseman, Anthonly Anglin, catcher/third baseman, Drew Hunt, pitcher/outfielder, first baseman, Nick Milhoan, pitcher/outfielder and Justin Smith, pitcher/outfielder.
“A lot of thoughts heading into this season was just getting these kids ready. At the beginning of practice we looked good,” said Swain, who has a career head coaching record of 141-96 at his alma mater. “I was really pleased with how hard they were doing in practice and how hard they were working. We had 11-to-12 kids we felt good about as far as pitching. And our hitters were much stronger than last season.
“We were really young last season and our kids had shown a lot of growth from last season to this season.”
He would love to see just how much they’ve grown in live game action.
“We are holding out hope,” Swain said. “It would be nice if we got a couple of weeks of games (regular season) and then sectionals (tournament play) would be nice. I hope that’s possible.”