Craig Harris/Macon County Times Red Boiling Springs junior Matthew Murphy was a 6-A All-District selection last season.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Red Boiling Springs junior Matthew Murphy was a 6-A All-District selection last season.

The Red Boiling Springs High baseball team struggled through its 2018 campaign.

The Bulldogs return multiple starters from that squad in hopes of improving upon their one-win campaign.

Junior Matthew Murphy leads that list of returnees. Murphy - a centerfielder and pitcher - was a 6-A All-District selection last season, posting a .303 batting average, starting a team-leading 11 games on the mound and picking up the team's lone victory by tossing a shutout in a 6-0 win over Clay County.

"He needs to really step it up, even though he had a good year (as a sophomore)," RBS head coach Chris Dziekiewicz said. "I couldn't ask him to do more than he did last year. He has potential. He's great. He has a great attitude. He's a leader on the team. He helps to keep heads up when kids get down.

"I want to him to step it up a whole other level. I think he can. I think he has it in him. He has gotten a little bigger and a little stronger. He has just gotten out of basketball (recently), so it is going to take him a few weeks into the season to get into the groove."

Sophomore Kenyan Goolsby is expected to pitch considerably as well.

"We need pitching," Dziekiewicz said. "I need (Goolsby) to step up his pitching. He's been doing better. He played in the summer some and in the fall. He's definitely worked."

Seniors Kendall Thompson and Shelba Stone and freshman Nicolas McCoy are also expected to see action on the mound. Sophomore Daniel Ruiz is another option.

Kendall Thompson logged the second-most innings on the team as a junior.

"Kendall's pitching started improving at the end of the year last year," Dziekiewicz said. "We need him for some pitching."

Junior Dalton Thompson started at catcher last season, producing a team-best .304 batting average. Dalton Thompson may catch again but could also see action at third base, as could Kendall Thompson and sophomore Hagan Wright.

Sophomore Michael Mathews could also see action at catcher.

"I really would like to get a solid third baseman," Dziekiewicz said. "(Dalton Thompson) has two years left. He's been stuck at catcher. That's asking a lot to throw a kid at third who has never played there, but he's not afraid of anything."

McCoy and sophomore Keaton Comer are the likely options in the middle infield, with either capable of playing shortstop and second base.

Freshman Preston Huffines is also an option at second base.

"The fielding is what worries me the most," Dziekiewicz said of his defense. "We made quite a few errors last year. This year, we're mixing in some different kids, and kids are playing different positions than they were last year."

Murphy is expected to be in centerfield when he doesn't pitch, and sophomore Devin Justice returns in leftfield.

"Devin is a perfect straight-A student," Dziekiewicz said. "He never does anything wrong. He likes baseball. He's here to do what he needs to do to play. He'll put in the effort.

"I'm hoping for his bat to get better. He was our best kid to bunt the ball (in 2018)."

Stone -- who played for the first time last season -- is expected to start in rightfield, and Goolsby is also expected to be a fixture in the outfield. Huffines is another option in the outfield.

"They're all improved," Dziekiewicz said. "It could be a solid group.

"Last year was (Stone's) first year ever playing. He had to start five or six games. Since November, he's been in here working hard. He's trying to get his swing fixed. He's working on his pitching. Mechanically, so far he's done well for us. I haven't seen that much improvement from one kid in one year's time in a long time."

Gordonsville won District 6-A last season and reached the Class A State Tournament.

"Our schedule this year … every single game we play is against AA schools, except for the ones we play in district play," Dziekiewicz said. "Last year, in several innings, we would compete. Then, we'd have an inning or two where we'd fall apart. Hopefully, these guys who are experienced can help us to have more of those good innings.

"It's probably the hardest schedule I've had in seven years."

The Bulldogs open play with a district game at Pickett County on Monday.