State-ranked Eagles begin defense of CCC tourney crown Tuesday
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on May 1, 2006 2:08 PM
Tim Brannan remembers when times were tough for the Wayne Christian baseball team.
That's what makes a perfect 8-0 Carolina Christian 1-A Conference record and a first-ever state ranking that much sweeter.
"It's awesome," said Brannan, whose No. 5-ranked Eagles finished the regular season on Friday with a huge 5-2 win over Village Christian. "I've got six seniors (Billy Smith, Jeffrey Barfield, Jordan Yelverton, Tyler Thomas, Robert Anderson and Andrew Bass), they've played their hearts out for me the last three years and I've seen them build and get better every year. And to see them come out and finish undefeated in our conference is amazing.
"I know a lot of these men who are seniors were playing varsity ball as eighth graders, and they were taking some beatings," he said. "Now that they're older, it's come full circle and now we're the ones doing a lot of winning."
Wayne Christian secured the CCC regular season title two years ago and took the tournament championship last season.
This year, the Eagles are hoping to win them both.
"It's exciting -- words can't describe it," Thomas said of this year's 8-0 CCC record. "Coach Brannan tells us all the time we're a family, that's what he teaches, and that's what we've become. Our expectations are to go in and win the conference tournament and then move on to state and hopefully do well there."
As a team, the Eagles (12-3 overall) are hitting .323, are playing solid defense and have gotten great years on the mound from Thomas and Adam Brannan.
"Right now, we're playing really good defense," coach Brannan said. "If we play defense like we did (against Village) for our pitchers, we're going to be in most games. Defensively, I think we're there, I think our pitching's really good, and we're being selective at the plate and hitting the ball well and scoring runs, too.
"I think we're playing good baseball."
T.A. Brannan leads the team with a .522 batting average after missing the first month of the season with a shoulder injury he suffered during basketball season. Smith is batting .500, Jeremy Jefferson is hitting .426, Bass is at .387 and Adam Brannan is hitting .313. Other members of the Eagles are Tyler Brannan, Doug Johnson, Travis Thomas and Josiah Wright.
Coach Brannan said he is looking forward to the postseason, but has cautioned his Eagles not to look too far ahead.
"We're going to take it one game at a time," he said. "We're pretty sure we're going to get a state bid, but we know that every game we're going to have to come out ready to play."
With the No. 1 seed in the CCC tournament secured, Wayne Christian will open the postseason at 4 p.m. Tuesday at home.
"These guys right here are bubbling over with excitement and are ready for the tournament," coach Brannan said. "No doubt about it, we're ready to play."
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