05/21/10 — Watt era begins

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Watt era begins

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 21, 2010 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Experience and talent returns.

And new head coach Rob Watt is looking forward to seeing just what Wayne County Post 11 can do on the Senior American Legion baseball scene this summer.

Watt is the seventh head coach in Post 11 history since 1978. An assistant at Mount Olive College, Watt takes over for Brad Reaves, who guided the program to back-to-back Area I championships in 2007 and 2008.

On the outside looking in for many a sweltering summer evening at Scarborough Field, Watt eagerly anticipates viewing his team from the dugout and third-base box. So far, he's encouraged ... and extremely optimistic.

Watt gets his first real look Saturday when Post 11 plays host to Ahoskie Post 102 for a non-division contest. First pitch is 5:30 p.m.

"We're definitely looking to improve on what we did the year before," said Watt of last year's 11-win season, the program's lowest win output since logging a 12-12 worksheet in 2006.

"It's going to be new to me and new to the guys who are working for me. We're just looking to put the best product out there that we can."

Wayne County is once again awash in returning skill-position players and the standards remain the same for the tradition-rich program. Anything less than an Area I East championship or appearance in the state tournament is unacceptable.

More than 30 players attended a one-day tryout at MOC. Watt and his coaching staff -- Jason Sherrer and Jackson Massey -- kept 24. They'll start the season minus three Lenoir Community College standouts -- Tyler Edwards, Scott Holloman and Cody Richards -- who are playing in the Division II JUCO College World Series next week in Enid, Okla.

Eastern Wayne's players will also be absent. The Warriors played at West Brunswick today in a third-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A baseball playoff contest. Newcomers Will Bynum and Zack Chase play for Greene Central, which squared off tonight against Farmville Central in the 2-A playoffs.

"I'm excited about it and have had the chance to watch most of them play high school ball," said Watt, who has 14 returners on the roster. "I think we're a little deeper than people think we are. When we look at each position, we have at least two or three guys who can fill the void.

"It's a solid group of guys."

Post 11 has a logjam in several spots, including 12 infielders. The outfield is full of talent. Chowan University standout Jordan Williams is back and newcomer Hunter Newsome will patrol a spot somewhere.

Watt coached Martinsville (Va.) in the wooden-bat Coastal Plain League for several seasons, and says there is little difference between that level and American Legion baseball. The main adjustment is competing with the hand you're dealt in American Legion play, whereas in the CPL you could switch out players if necessary.

While Wayne County appears balanced and does have some pop in its line-up, Watt doesn't have a complete grasp of the team. The players practiced together for the first time this week.

Watt plans to employ the same philosophy he used at Martinsville and sees during the fall and spring at MOC. He expects the team to put pressure on the defense, pound the strike zone and keep going after the opponent. He's looking for a gritty, high-intensity squad that goes hard on every play.

"My main goal, I would like them to feel as though they can function as a unit," said Watt. "At Mount Olive, we always talk about our ability to execute, understand that game and know what your job is supposed to be (in certain situations).

"Once the kids understand that, the other things will come a lot easier to them. I think we'll surprise some folks a little bit."