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By Olivia Carson
In the summer of 2020, the Braves finished 6th in regular season with a record of 8-13 and were not able to make it past the first round of the playoffs. Going into his third year with Montezuma, Head Coach Chris Rush has high hopes for his team moving forward in the upcoming season.
Because of the current and ongoing global pandemic, high school and college sports seasons were pushed back and Rush has been unable to see some of his players practice with the team. With this being said, he does not seem to be worried and has high expectations for some of his new incoming players.
The Braves are looking to welcome about 10-12 new names to their roster this season. Rush named three college level players who he expects to be very impactful in the RCBL.
“We added Hunter Clever, he is a utility player at Bridgewater. He was a pretty impactful player in their playoff run, he got a win and a save as a pitcher in their first round games against Roanoke,” says Rush. Also mentioned were outfielders Jakob King from Mary Baldwin and JT Stevenson from Allegany College of Maryland who Rush believes will be a great addition to the Braves team.
Looking back at the 2020 season, Rush is aware that pitching might be the Braves biggest challenge with the limited roster spots that they have. This season, Montezuma will focus on making sure they have a good group of guys coming out of the bullpen.
“If anything last year that was a little bit of our issue was being up in the game or a really close game getting into the 6th or 7th inning and then not having enough guys [that are able] to come out of the pen that could throw strikes or get us outs,” says Rush.
The Braves have quite a few returning and experienced players who have the potential to make a major impact in the league this season. First, is Keegan Oliver who is a pitcher that graduated from Bridgewater College. Based on Oliver's career at Bridgewater, Rush is excited to see what he can do and expects him to be a very fun player to watch.
Other key returning players are going to include a long time utility player for the Braves, Kyle Armstrong and Michael Robertson who was named the male athlete of the year at Mary Baldwin this past season. Gavin Rush is also returning and will be a player to look out for in the middle infield, outfield as well as at the plate.
Other than mask mandates, schedule changes, and delayed seasons, Coach Rush seems to think this season will be very close to being back to normal.
The Braves will be facing the Bridgewater Reds at Montezuma Ruritan Park on Saturday June 5 for their first matchup of the 2021 season.
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