MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — The Chipola baseball team will have plenty of new faces this season, with only a handful of returning players.
This season, similar to in years past, the Indians have recruited all around the world to fill their roster.
“It’s always been neat for me to bring guys in from different places and different countries and all that, and to watch them mold together and grow together and work together,” Chipola head baseball coach Jeff Johnson said.
One of the new players, traveling just a few minutes down the road in Marianna.
“Growing up hearing and about Chipola my whole life, I’m really blessed to come here,” Chipola Freshman Brantley Willis said.
In the preseason, the Indians rounded out the top ten with the number ten spot.
“We know we’re talented,” Chipola sophomore Brady Browning said. “Hopefully we’ll be ranked one by the end of the year, but we know we knew we would be ranked pretty high and looking forward to the opportunity. But we still got to grind. We still got to earn that spot. We weren’t ranked there for no reason.”
There is a lot of question marks, including how this team will perform under the lights when it matters.
“Probably one of the most unknown teams I’ve ever had here because of the lack of experience,” Johnson said. “And so there’s a lot of variables out there. I’m interested to see what happens with it, so I really don’t know what to expect other than I think they’ll be happy to play and I think they’ll compete well, and then we’ll have to come back and start correcting some mistakes and see where we go from there.”
The Panhandle is home to some of baseball’s best, with a conference that puts any team to the test.
“Conference play is going to be hard,” Browning said. “There’s a lot of talented teams in the conference. That’s part of it. That’s why you come to Chipola to play hard baseball, but we’re looking forward to it. We know we’re ready for it. We’ll continue to get better and see what we can do.”
For now, the focus is on the season opener and putting the first game in the win column.
The Indians open their season on the road, when they face Polk State in Auburndale, Florida at noon on Friday, January, 27.