Sports

Gilmore has many pieces to play with

CONWAY | Gary Gilmore has assembled what may be the most talented group of players in Coastal Carolina baseball history.Over the next 45 days, the veteran skipper will begin to put the pieces together. The Chanticleers, featuring an experienced cast and carrying big expectations, resume the quest for their first trip to Omaha - the site of the College World Series - when fall practice commences today.Gilmore returns seven position players who started at least 30 games and three pitchers who had at least 60 innings on the mound last season, a 47-16 campaign that ended in the NCAA Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional."If all of them do the things they need to do physically, we get tougher mentally and improve in a lot of ways, this team could be really special," said Gilmore, whose program will punctuate the fall season with the Chanticleer World Series Oct. 30-Nov.1. A familiar cast of players, many of them seniors, will lead the charge in 2010, including outfielders Rico Noel, Daniel Bowman and Chance Gilmore, infielders Scott Woodward, Taylor Motter, Adam Rice and Jose Iglesias and pitchers Cody Wheeler, Anthony Meo and Austin Fleet.In an effort to get his best players on the field, Gary Gilmore may move some players around. Iglesias (catcher), Rice (first base), Motter (shortstop), Woodward (third base), Bowman (right field) and Gilmore (left field) figure to remain in their primary positions from last season.However, questions remain at second base. Though Noel flashed great defensive skills in center field last season, he could return to second, the position he manned as a freshman in 2008, if St. John's transfer Tommy LaStella or Steve Davis fail to produce.If Noel moves to second, junior college transfer Luke Schlechte could man center field. He played the position this summer in the Prospect League, and Gilmore believes he'll be in the mix for playing time at one position or another.Gilmore's biggest concern is developing depth and determining how to use his pitching staff. Two starters, left-handed junior Cody Wheeler and right-handed sophomore Anthony Meo, return after solid campaigns. Senior Austin Fleet has the ability to start, but Gilmore wants him to come out of the bullpen like he did for most of 2009.But Nick McCully and Bobby Gagg are gone, leaving a number of unproven players to fill in the gaps."The area where we probably have the most unknowns is the pitching area [in terms] of roles," Gilmore said. "We've got Wheeler and Meo back, and they're two front-end guys. But who are going to be the other two starters? Who will be the guys that pitch the sixth, seventh and eight innings to get to whoever we're going to close with?"k Contact JOSH HOKE at 843-626-0318.ONLINE | To view Hoke's Coastal Carolina blog "The Roost," go to TheSunNews.com.

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