McALESTER — Justin Bond played baseball for McAlester back when the Buffaloes were synonymous with regional championships and appearances in the state tournament. That made last spring’s one-day, two-loss postseason at Regionals that much tougher to swallow.
Bond has taken over as head coach of the Buffs this season. And with fellow McAlester alumni Trent Homer and Justin Mullins serving as assistant coaches, this new coaching staff has made it a goal to return McAlester baseball to the elite levels of Class 5A baseball.
“That’s always our goal, every year, is to be a state qualifier, regional champ, and anything less than that is a disappointment,” Bond said Tuesday.
While the 2014 Buffs have six seniors who could make an impact this season, Bond has chosen a freshman, Mason Ross, to be his Opening Day pitcher Monday at Tulsa Edison.
“He’s going to throw and miss a lot of bats, because I think he has an above-average fastball, and quality secondary pitches.” Bond said of Ross. “He can throw his slider (and) curveball for a strike in all counts.”
Ross leads a deep pitching rotation that also includes returning starters Dalton Wood and Brandon Green. When he’s not pitching, Ross has been able to play a multitude of positions, Bond said.
Taylor Mullins, Grant Sontag and Michael Hyden could also eat up some innings for the Buffs. Bond said solid pitching will make life much easier for McAlester’s infielders, who often struggled defensively last season.
“When people are putting the ball in play and forcing you, putting pressure on you defensively, it makes for a long game,” Bond said.
Brett Homer, a junior, is expected to take over at catcher, filling a big hole left when starting catcher and team leader Troy Meadows graduated last season.