Key West Conch’s Pre-Season Baseball Opener



Brandon Presley will get the starting pitcher’s call when the Key West Conchs face Somerset Academy in a 7:30 p.m. preseason game tonight at Rex Weech Field. But, regardless of how he performs, he won’t be there at the finish.

Coach Ralph Henriquez Jr. plans to limit his pitchers until at least late in the season, to four innings and maybe fewer, in what he’s calling a “piggy back” system. 

In Saturday’s preseason game, the Conchs will face Southridge in another 7:30 game.

Henriquez said Presley, Steve Wells, Greg Veliz, Darren Miller and Hunter Sellers will all be considered starters, but others, including Jay Feathers, Damon Taylor and Hunter Matteeson, will pitch in relief. “We have eight guys who can pitch at the Varsity level,” said Henriquez.

Chris Varela, “who has been doing a good job defensively,” and Gus Galo, who has had a sore elbow for a couple weeks, will probably alternate catching, said the coach, who returns after departing following the 2005 state championship game, Key West’s 11th title.

Sellers will be the regular third baseman, Veliz at shortstop, Miller at second and Hugo Valdes at first. With one of the first three on the mound, Anthony Henriquez will move in at second base. In the outfield, if they’re not pitching, will be Presley in left, Wells in center and Andy Perez in right. Taylor and Matteeson will also play in the outfield as well as move down at times to play with the JV team.

“The kids are really working hard,” said Henriquez, as the Conchs try to improve on their 12-12 season of a year ago when they played for coach Miguel Menendez, who resigned.

Senior Miller has committed to Florida State, while sophomore Veliz has already committed to the University of Miami – probably as a pitcher, since Henriquez says his fast ball has been timed in the 92-94 miles per hour range. Wells and Valdes are probably headed to Santa Fe Junior College in Gainesville.

“Miami has promised Greg (Veliz) a 90 per cent scholarship of $52,000,” said Henriquez. “If he keeps improving, he may get the other 10 per cent. Presley has schools looking at him, too.”

After this weekend preseason set, the Conchs play for real  next weekend with 7:30 p.m.  Friday and Saturday games against Rockledge at The Rex, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 18 and 19  home games  against Canterbury School. The first District 16-4A game is at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, against Keys Gate.

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