Coach: Matt Ginter, first season. Ginter, a former standout at the school and a major league pitcher, takes over for Larry Allison, who stepped down last fall. Ginter's coaching staff includes Kenny Davis, Tad Cain, Eric Walton, Tim Gibson and Chad Blackwell.
Last year: The Cardinals went 22-12 and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history. Clark lost to Bourbon County 10-4 in the district finals, but defeated the Colonels 14-4 in the region finale.
Players lost: Jake Robin, Tyler Cain, Anthony Withrow, T.K.Korb, Tyler Martinez and Zach Pasley.
Top returnees: Pokey Harris, Logan McQuerry, Taylor Howard, Robert Hatler, Derek McKenzie, Brent Stoneking.
Outlook: The Cardinals replace a nucleus of last year's team that made history. Harris, who has signed to play football at Murray State University, and McQuerry, serve as the team's top returnees. Clark opened the season with a 3-1 loss to Bryan Station on March 10 in Lexington. “We battled pretty well.” Ginter's lineup features Harris in center field, McQuerry at shortstop, Hatler behind the plate, Stoneking at third, Scotty Turner at second, Dalton Ritchie in right field, Steven Davis at first, Christian Cooke in the designated hitter slot and Dustin Bonner in left field. The team's pitching staff will be anchored by McKenzie, Stoneking and McQuerry, Hunter Osborne, Ritchie, Howard and Turner. New bats have led to decreased chances for a home run. “The ball will go 40-feet less than last year and it's gone from a five-inch sweet spot to a three-inch sweet spot,” Ginter said. Clark has spent most of the preseason working on pickoffs and bunt plays. Ginter's philosophy is to “just go out there and play.” Ginter said his team's success will depend on “pitching and defense.” “We're going to have to fight, scrap, bunt, double steal and all kinds of things to produce runs.” Ginter pointed at his team's lack of experience as a potential concern. “We've got some kids who have never played high school ball and some who haven't played in a while and some who haven't had a chance to play. As long as we improve and learn something every game, we'll (be fine). We're playing top teams for a reason, come postseason we'll be ready for the district and the region. We won't panic and we'll know what to do.”
Schedule: Friday, Mason County, 5 p.m.; Saturday, Henry Clay, noon; March 27, Woodford County, 5:30 p.m.; March 29 at Dunbar, 7:30 p.m.; March 31 at Pulaski County, 11 a.m.; April 2, at Bourbon County, 5:30 p.m.; April 6, Powell County, 5:30 p.m.; April 7, at Estill County, noon; April 10 at Paris, 5 p.m.; April 12, at Powell County, 5:30 p.m.; April 13, vs. Ashland Blazer at Mason County, 6 p.m.; April 16, Estill County, 5:30 p.m.; April 17, at Montgomery County, 5:30 p.m.; April 19, at Harrison County, 5:15 p.m.; April 20-21 at Hazard Invitational; April 27-28, at Hazard Invitational; April 30, Montgomery County, 5:30 p.m.; May 1, at Woodford County, 5:30 p.m.; May 4-5 at Tanner Dodge Classic, Powell County; May 7, Paris, 5:30 p.m.; May 9, Dunbar, 5:30 p.m.; May 10, Lexington Christian, 5:30 p.m.; May 14 at Bryan Station, 5:30 p.m.; May 15, Pulaski County, 6 p.m.; May 18, at Lexington Catholic, 5:30 p.m.