New-look Dover still hopes to contend

 

DOVER — Dover High’s baseball program has spent the last four years as one of the best in the state.

While the Senators still haven’t had that one big breakthrough season, they’ve reached the DIAA state semifinals each of the last four years.

Dover’s overall record in that span is 56-18, with at least 16 victories each spring.

So this year’s Senators aren’t interested in people telling them this is a rebuilding season.

“We’ve heard it already,” said senior Avery Tunnell. “We just want to look past it and show them that, even though we’ve got young kids, we can still get it done. It motivates us a lot. … We’ve just got to show it on the field.”

Junior outfielder Jarvis Worthy is one of the few returning starters for the Senators this season.

There’s no question Dover will have a lot of new faces on the roster when it opens the season by hosting Lake Forest on Thursday at 4:15 p.m.

The Senators graduated three first-team All-Henlopen Northern Division selections plus one second-teamer. Three of them are now playing college baseball, including state Player of the Year Jordan Hutchins (Delaware).

Coach Dave Gordon thinks there’s still a good deal of potential on Dover’s roster. But he said it’s definitely not a group that can get too far ahead of itself.

“I like their energy,” Gordon said about his players. “They work hard. I think they’re committed to kind of keeping this thing going as far as our tradition of winning and making it to states.

“They don’t want to be that group that doesn’t make it. There’s still a lot of figuring out to do, as far as the lineup.”

The Senators have made the DIAA state tournament the last seven years in a row. They’ve also sent a number of players on to college programs in that span.

Gordon hopes the work ethic from those players has been passed along.

“We’re always shooting to go as far as we can,” said junior centerfielder Jarvis Worthy, a second-team all-North pick last season. “It doesn’t matter if we’re young or if we’ve got all seniors. It’s just about how hard we work in practice.

“I do like being an underdog. … A lot of people are saying Dover lost everyone. That’s what I’m hearing. We’re going to see what happens. We have players who are talented on this team and they’re ready to play some baseball. It’s a great feeling to prove people wrong.”

The veterans on this year’s team include Tunnell, Worthy and senior catcher Dimitri Floyd, who was an honorable mention All-North selection last spring.

The Senators also return seniors Jared Hickox and Cameron Turner along with sophomore Hiram Davis, all who saw some action a year ago.

Pitching depth is going to be even more crucial for every team in the state this season. The DIAA is now using mandatory pitch limits.

Previously, the limit was based on innings.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Gordon. “They said to ‘develop’ at the meeting and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re developing so we’ve got seven or eight guys. I think it’s going to be fine.”

Gordon’s issue right now is sorting out his best starting lineup.

He’s looking for more players to separate themselves from the pack and take hold of positions.

With that in mind, his only goal is trying to win the next game on the schedule.

“I feel, by the end of the year, we’re going to be a pretty tough team,” said Gordon. “I think it’s going to take some time. We’re still figuring things out.

“There’s a lot to replace — every year there’s a lot to replace. That’s my job to figure it out. I’ve got to coach them up, put them in the right spots and win some ballgames.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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