It is the beginning of the season for the Chamblee Boys Baseball team, and with a new season means another run at the state playoffs.
Last season was a very successful one for the Bulldogs. They finished with an impressive 22-8 record, which landed them and 2nd seed in the playoffs.
“Last season was a tremendously successful season for our team,” said head coach Brian Ely. “Those 22 wins set a single season school record. It was a great year, memorable and historic.”
However, the season ultimately ended in disappointment as they lost in the first round to Kell High school.
This new season also raises some concerns in terms of team depth and experience. Junior shortstop Matthew Welsh noticed that even though last season was one of the best years in Chamblee baseball history, the team lost a whopping twelve seniors. “Norman Kelly, Marshall Peters, and David Albuquerque are the three seniors,” said Welsh.
Despite this unnaturally low number of seniors, Kelly is still excited for the new season, and believes it will not affect their performance this year.
“We have a lot of kids with a lot of talent,” said Kelly, “who really want to play the game. And we are still solid all around.”
Kelly plays shortstop, left field, and he pitches. He has played baseball all his years at Chamblee. He first transferred to Chamblee his sophomore year. And every season has been a successful one, in terms of having a winning record and making the playoffs every year.
But he wants his last season to be different, and believes that making it to the state championship is still within reach.
“We are going to state [championship] for sure,” said Kelly. “On God, I’m going to take us there.”
Welsh believes that just because the team lost a lot of it’s roster, does not mean that the Bulldogs are going to suffer because of it. The team has a lot of new and young players, but they still have some experienced ones as well.
“There’s some guys last year that played varsity that are going to be able to help lead them and show them [young players] how to do it,” said Welsh. “Despite the fact that we lost a whole bunch of guys, we are just looking for everyone to get better.”
Coach Ely has been with the Chamblee baseball program for quite some time and notes that many of the players that left last year had been playing all four years at Chamblee. He still feels that even though this year’s Bulldogs are different, it is still going to be a solid season.
“The difference with this year’s players is that they don’t have that same experience,” said Ely. “That does not necessarily mean that they are not going to be successful by any means. We’ve always been pretty good and we have the makings to still be a solid team.”
Like, Welsh, Coach Ely also believes that this season is the season to get better.
“The exciting opportunity for guys this year is that they have a chance to get that varsity experience,” said Ely.
In a way, the contrast between last year’s team and this years team reminds Ely of a similar situation back in 2010. Again, they had an accomplished and seasoned graduating class of seniors, but that did not stop them from having a good year.
“We had a good season,” said Ely. “And a lot of the guys definitely set themselves up for success for their next season, when we made it to the state tournament. I see it [this year] as a really great opportunity and it is a refreshing moment and a recharge moment for my staff and myself to get a clean slate with this new group of players.”