When basketball season ended last week the number of baseball players on first year head coach Arron Kimes’ roster increased.
Kimes, who moved from assistant to head coach after Darby Ulmer stepped down following last season, now has 18 players in practice preparing for the 2020 season.
Kimes had been an assistant for the program since 2014.
A decade earlier he was a Bearcat pitcher for three years — freshmen were not permitted to move up then — for Geral Holloway and Dale Mann.
As a senior in 2004 Kimes pitched the Bearcats into the state tournament. That year he was 8-2 and he fanned 79 hitters, 10 in a state tournament game.
He was 15-6 in his career with 153 strike outs.
Among the returnees with experience for Kimes’ first year as the head coach — Jake Fennell, another former player for BHS, is now the assistant — are Jacob Herrera, who moved over after basketball, Gabe Fennell, Ty Goff, and Randon Ray, who started as a freshman last year.
While an assistant coach for the Bearcats, Kimes has worked extensively with pitchers. He said he expects to lean on Herrera and Fennell heavy in conference play.
Fennell threw 30 and 2/3 innings a year ago with seven starts — both second most on the team. He also struck out 25.
Herrera made 10 relief appearances totaling 15 and 2/3 innings with a 2.23 earned run average.
Typically stationed in center field, Ray got one start on the mound last year and Goff made a couple of appearances out of the bullpen.
Also back with pitching experience is Chance Brousard, who also had one start.
A late arrival to the action, also back is Cam Brasher, who completes the battery and was a force at the plate with a .450 average and 26 runs batted in, both best among returnees.
Ray played in all 29 games and hit .333 with three doubles, a triple and 15 RBI. He drew a team best 22 walks.
A third baseman when he’s not pitching, Herrera hit .329 and drove in 17 runs; and Fennell, who patrols the shortstop position hit .304 with 27 runs scored, second on the club.
Goff managed 21 plate appearances while playing mostly in the outfield and Broussard finished with 14 plate appearances for the Bearcats in 2019.
The Bearcats were schedule to play in their annual Pink-Out intrasquad game on Monday.
They open the season on March 2 against Ozark and opening conference play on March 6 against Jessieville. Both games are at the Billy Kiersey Baseball/Softball Complex.