Railroaders' depth a plus

ERIC WALKER/The Mayfield Messenger

New Fulton Railroaders skipper Tanner Wessling goes through the throwing motion during bunt drills Wednesday at Lohaus Field. The Railroaders open their Ohio Valley League season tonight at Brooks Stadium against the Paducah Chiefs.

FULTON -- Depth is a luxury and a necessity in any sport. With a near 30-man roster going into this Oho Valley League baseball season, new Fulton Railroaders coach Tanner Wessling believes his team is in a better position to compete.

"Last summer, what really hurt us wasn't the quality of guys we had. We had a lot of good players that came to work hard. It was the quantity," he said prior to the team's second practice in preparation for tonight's opener at Paducah (6:30 p.m. at Brooks Stadium).

"We couldn't compete in a five-game week with nine or 10 pitchers," he said. "Five would start and then five or four would come in relief."

The lack of pitching depth not only wore on the players, but they also couldn't get work in between starts or relief situations.

"It was just 'go pitch' and that was it," Wessling said.

Now, the Railroaders have nearly doubled their rotation to 14 - which includes former Graves County and future Murray State southpaw Jordyn Naranjo - with a few additions possibly on the way.

"It gives us some depth and versatility there," the coach added.

It's the same case for his whole roster, which lacks any player from last season's 16-25 team, but still has representation from familiar college and university baseball programs like the University of Montevallo (Alabama), University of Alabama-Huntsville and Rend Lake (Illinois) Community College.

"A lot of guys can play multiple spots in the infield and some guys who can play in the outfield and infield," Wessling said.

He also said he feels confident in his team's batting. Last year, Fulton's R.J. Green led the league with a .435 average in 144 plate appearances.

After tonight, Fulton will hold its home opener at Lohaus Field Saturday against Hopkinsville's Hoptown Hoppers (game time is for 7 p.m.). Hoptown edged Paducah last year in the OVL's West Division final standings.

The team will then hit the road Sunday to Dubois County, Indiana. The Bombers were second in the East Division to Owensboro.

"We know Hopkinsville's going to be good and Dubois County is always good," Wessling said. "We hope we can come out and have a good showing. It should be a good weekend and a good challenge for us."

Fulton Railroader Roster

P: Drew Kirby, Noah Vickers, Chance Forbes, Cade Killingsworth, Jordyn Naranjo, Britt Netterville, Brad Webber, Will Pratt, Tanner Stinnett, Omari Hunter, Ryan Middleton, Colin Millar, Bennett Christiansen, Ben Kowalski.

C: Sam Gallimore, Garrett Guymon, Alex Willford.

IF: Ty Wooten, Sam Vomhof, Tyler Bell, Chance Foss, Reid Rector, Davis Lott, O'Neill Burgos.

OF: Keshaun Mays, Nathan Bynum, Landon Ezzell, Luke McKenzie.

Schedule

May

31-at Paducah

June

1-vs. Hoptown

2-at Dubois Co.

5-vs. Franklin

6-at Owensboro

7-vs. Franklin

8-vs. Henderson

9-vs. Muhlenberg Co.

11-at Muhlenberg Co.

12-at Owensboro

13-vs. Paducah

15-at Franklin

16-vs. Owensboro

18-vs. Hoptown

19-at Paducah

20-at Hoptown

21-vs. Dubois Co.

22-at Muhlenberg Co.

23-at Hoptown

26-at Madisonville

27-vs. Henderson

28-at Henderson

29-vs. Muhlenberg Co.

30-vs. Dubois Co.

July

2-at Owensboro

3-at Muhlenberg Co.

4-vs. Madisonville

6. vs. Franklin

7-at Franklin

10-vs. Paducah

11-vs. Owensboro

12-vs. Madisonville

13-at Madisonville

14-at Henderson

16-at Dubois Co.

18-vs. Hoptown

19. vs. Dubois Co.

20-at Madisonville

21-at Henderson

23-vs. Paducah

Eric Walker is the sports editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.