Any coach will tell you, that for his or her team to be successful, senior leadership always goes a long way in determining just how successful that team is going to be.

For that reason alone, some may figure the Somerset baseball team is going to struggle mightily this year, with only a handful of seniors on the roster.

But, not so fast.

Sure, the Jumpers have already lost one of those seniors due to a severe injury, but there are a couple of kids in purple and gold ready to step up and lead the way for coach Phil Grundy’s squad.

Andy Cole, arguably one of the top baseball prospects, if not the top prospect in the 12th Region, was lost to the Jumper baseball team way back last December, when he tore an ACL in a knee, during a basketball game.

So, with Cole, a talented senior, gone for much of this season, (his return to the diamond could be as late as the post season,) where will the Jumpers turn?

Enter seniors Matt Salmons and Kyle Spears into the picture.

This duo will be the CO-captains of the Briar Jumper baseball team for the upcoming year, and they are not only ready to lead the Somerset baseball team by example, but they hope they are hopeful of helping the Jumpers stay competitive for both a district and regional title, until Cole can maybe get back in the lineup by the end of the season.

“We’ll have to step up a lot this year, but we’ll have to have a lot of players step up too,” stated Salmons. “Not just us, but everybody on the team is going to have to pick up their games, because you’re asking a lot, when you’re trying to replace an Andy Cole, because he’s such a great player.”

Salmons will be playing, for the most part in right field this season, while Spears will be on the hot corner at third base.

“I’ve never really been asked to be a leader before this year, so it does put a little more pressure on me, and I think it’s mainly because there’s only two or three of us on the team this season,” Spears noted.

“We’re going to be a really young team this year, but I really think we’re going to have a better season than last year,” Spears added. “I think we’ll go farther in the district, and hopefully, be able to make a strong run at the region.”

Somerset finished last season with a 21-12 mark, and the Jumpers were a number one seed in the 48th District, but fell in extra innings to South Laurel, knocking them out of an opportunity to advance on to the 12th Regional Tournament.

Salmons meanwhile, says one of his goals is a very high one; getting his team to Lexington and being able to play at Applebee’s Park.

“I’ve never been on Applebee’s Field myself, so I hope we get the chance to play there in the Class A,” pointed out Salmons. “Our main goal however, is to win the region, so we’ve set some pretty high goals for ourselves. And, if we all work hard, I really think we can reach them.”

“Experience is going to be our biggest problem, because we’re really young this year,” said Salmons. “We’re a going to be an athletic team though, so I really do think we can win the region.”

Whether the Jumpers can win a regional title in 2006 remains to be seen. After all, there’s a whole bunch of baseball to be played over the course of the next three months, and there is a ton of youth, up and down the Somerset roster.

But, one thing is for sure about the Briar Jumpers of ‘06. Matt Salmons and Kyle Spears, two senior leaders, are ready for the challenge of leading this young team throughout the course of the year.

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