Head Coach Al Corbeil enters his eighth season at Polk State. He has led the Eagles to seven Suncoast Conference Championships, one state championship, and the 2012 JUCO World Series.
We asked Al to share his thoughts on the 2018 season, which started last week.
Who are your key players who have returned this season?
First baseman Zach Scott is our only returning position player from last year's club. He will be a middle-of-the-order threat in the lineup again this season after batting .330 with 46 RBI last year. He has committed to Florida Southern College next season
Pat Doudican, left-handed pitcher, saw limited innings last season as a freshman but will be relied upon heavily to anchor the staff as our number-one pitcher. He will take his 90-mph arm to University of South Florida next year.
Right-hander Chavez Fernander returns to bolster the back end of the bullpen this year. He flashed a fastball touching 94-95 this fall at the state all-star game. Hopefully he can repeat the success he had last year for the Eagles again this season.
And we expect right-handed pitcher Julio Blanco to make major contributions this year with his 90mph sinker.
Zach Scott, a sophomore from Mulberry, Fla., provides solid defense and a big bat in the middle of the lineup. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
Who are your key losses from last year's Suncoast Conference championship team?
Pitcher Shameko Smith (signed with Colorado Rockies).
Pitcher Jordan Spicer (drafted by Minnesota Twins but opted to attend University of Central Florida).
Catcher Isaiah Cullum (University of Missouri).
Outfielder Zach Diewert (University of Missouri).
Outfielder Skylar Frey (Florida State University).
Relief pitcher Zach Schneider, last year's State Fireman of the Year (Florida Atlantic University).
Who are your key newcomers?
Alec Barger, right-handed pitcher: He's a very athletic pitcher with low-90s fastball who we expect to pitch in the top of our rotation this year. He came to us from Northern Illinois University.
Billy McKay, right-handed pitcher: A transfer from University of Florida, he will make an immediate impact in the back end of our bullpen
Jared Freilich, right-handed pitcher: A 6'-7" transfer from University of Kentucky, he is expected be a rotation arm this spring.
Danny Madden, lefty pitcher who transferred from St. Bonaventure University.
Cody Oerther, catcher and a transfer from High Point University.
Sophomore pitcher Chavez Fernander, who came to Polk State from Grand Bahama, brings his 95-mph fastball to the Eagles' bullpen. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
What are your team's strengths and weaknesses this season?
Our strengths are that we have some versatile players on the club, which should allow us to mix and match our lineups throughout the season.
As for weaknesses, we have an untested young team with 21 new faces and minimal college playing experience. We'll need to learn from our mistakes early in the year to have a chance to win a fifth consecutive Suncoast Conference Championship.
What are your goals for the 2018 season?
We want to win the Suncoast Conference Championship and earn another postseason berth in the state tournament at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.