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By JOEL COLEMAN
For most teams, high school summer baseball is more about developing players than winning.
Thursday, Starkville Academy found a way to do both.
Hunter Bolin helped kick off the Volunteers' summer slate in dominating fashion, pitching five shutout innings to record the win in SA's 3-2 victory over Caledonia in the opening game of a doubleheader at Volunteer Field.
"We're trying to develop some pitchers and things, but I told the guys earlier that we're out here this summer to win and to play hard," said SA assistant coach Casey Orr, who guided the team Thursday in the absence of head coach Neal Henry.
Henry, along with former Vols shortstop Kyle Henson, was out of town due to their participation in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools All-Star Baseball festivities.
Orr and the Vols did just fine in their leader's absence.
Stephen Robertson and Drew Pellum completed the Vols' mound duties in the contest with Pellum earning the save.
Tripp Janssen paced SA's offensive attack, going 2-for-3 including a triple and an RBI.
Janssen was the only player for the Vols to record more than one hit as SA played its first game using the college-style bats that will be in play during the 2012 regular season.
"Guys are trying to get adjusted to them," said Orr of the bats. "We didn't hit the ball extremely well, but we did manage to get some people on and we stole some bases."
While he acknowledged the new bats may change the way some teams play to some extent, Orr said he doesn't anticipate the Vols having to alter their own style too much.
"I told the guys when they were talking about being upset about using the new bats that as a team last year we only hit nine home runs," said Orr. "So it's not like we're really going to lose a lot of home run power."
If the new bats produce a more pitching-oriented game, the Vols showed promise Thursday that they'll be in good shape.
The trio of Bolin, Robertson and Pellum, all soon-to-be juniors, handled the Caledonia lineup masterfully with the only runs surrendered coming in the sixth.
With SA already up 3-0, Robertson was haunted by defensive miscues behind him as Caledonia pulled to within one run.
That was as close as the Confederates could get however, as in the seventh, Pellum was able to cement the Vols' win.
Orr said he hopes to see more of the same as the summer progresses.
"I feel like these younger guys that were sophomores last year and going to be juniors, they're a very good class," said Orr. "We've got some juniors that will be seniors that are very good baseball players too. We really feel like it's time for all of them to learn how to win. They've all just got to be competitive and want to win whenever they step out on the field."
SA received another dose of victory in Thursday's nightcap, completing the doubleheader sweep over Caledonia with a 9-6 win.
Alex Holtcamp picked up the pitching win for the Vols while Josh Holtcamp notched the save.