High School Sports

Fleming Island Baseball: Back In The Swing of Things

todayFebruary 8, 2022


By James Critch


It’s springtime again which means it’s time for some baseball in Clay County. Following an amazing season of 25-6 and a runner up spot in the State Championship, the Fleming Island Eagles are gearing up to make another run at excellence.

Coach Grant Bigilin and staff are prepared to get back to work with their returning players and a nice size of JV players to pull from who are now ready to see their first real action at the Varsity level.

Bigilin is a FI Baseball alumnus (08-11) who finished his senior season with a 25-5 record along with a District Championship and a trip to the Regional Finals.  Coach Grant has surrounded himself with a top notch staff including: Jeff Gidcumb (pitching coach) who played at the University of Florida, catchers coach Mike Martino who is a Kentucky High School Hall of Famer, infielders coach David Whetstone who has been at FI for 6 years, along with Kurt Musser who has been a mainstay for FI for over 10 years.

The coaching staff know their first responsibility is to produce a winning program for the school and players, and in doing so they have created a culture within the clubhouse. Last season the motto was “All In”. According to Grant, the culture that was formed by having every player be All In along with players holding each other accountable at every practice and every game ended with “the tightest group I’ve been a part of as a player or coach”.

Grant realizes that his responsibility does not end after 9 innings. Along with the other coaches, Bigilin, is also motivated to help the players have an opportunity with a successful life after High School. Twelve players graduated following last season and 6 of those have moved on to college:  Aiden Mastantuno, Cody Carwile, Dylan Dudones, Jack Gidcumb, Marcus Murray, and Angelo Scionti. Carwile(P) is attending Georgia Tech while others are at St Johns River, Florida State Community and Edwards College.

Following up the season that the Eagles had last year is going to be a difficult task with 12 players having graduated, but with players such as: Pitchers Issac Williams and Divine Valle who have already committed to Jacksonville University along with up and coming players Abram Summers(JR), Justin Cornfield(SR), Ben Abram(Soph), Gavin Billingsley(JR), Caleb Simmons(SR), the coaches feel confident they can build around this group and make another run at State. Once again, pitching will be a dominant part of the FI plan to make another run and according to Bigilin they have a “solid 8 to 9 ready for the mound”.

Grant believes that for this group of players to have a successful season “they will need to stay within themselves. Don’t try to be last years’s team, focus and be the best that we can be as we are now”.

It will be a tough road for the young group of FI ballplayers with teams such as Bartram Trail, St. Johns Country Day and Clay Blue Devils waiting on deck to face off with the Eagles this season. Bigilin believes these teams will be “their toughest opponents again this year”. With the coaching staff that has been assembled over the last few years that continue to preach old-school baseball, leave your ego at the door and work as a team along with a large group of young players eager to prove themselves, the Eagles and their fans should have faith that this team will have a chance to make some noise when they hear the umpire say “play ball”.

Written by: 1010admin

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