Wayne Christian baseball preview
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 9, 2012 1:48 PM
The first pitch of 2012 ushered in a new era in the baseball program at Wayne Christian School. The Eagles have a new coach and a variety of new faces to put into place as the non-conference schedule transitions into league action.
Wayne Christian will field eight freshmen and two eighth-graders as part of the 13-man varsity roster.
"It's really an exciting season for all of us," first-year head coach Curt Hinton said. "The mix of guys that we have are very talented and they have a chance to do something special if we come together and play up to our potential."
With no juniors and no sophomores suiting up this season, the Eagles will rely on their three senior starters for leadership.
Chandler Harrell will man third base on most afternoons and will also do some pitching. Chase Darden will occupy shortstop and also provide some innings on the mound. Ryan Cook will handle the catching duties.
The trio of upperclassmen will all bat in the middle of the Eagles' batting order.
"Those three guys are going to be critical in providing leadership and production in the batter's box," Hinton said. "The young guys on the team really look up to our seniors and they try hard to show that they are ready to play on the same level."
Not only will eight freshmen and two eighth-graders be competing on the varsity, but the same 10 players will be playing a full junior varsity schedule. Having such a huge percentage of players trudge through so many innings might scare off a new coach.
Hinton welcomes the challenge and is no stranger to the Wayne Christian baseball program. Hinton has helped coach both baseball and softball in the past at the school, and his son is one of the freshmen on the baseball team.
"This group of freshmen are not your typical group," Hinton said. "They have been playing together since they were about six years old. They know each other's games and they are really a cohesive unit."
Wayne Christian's strength on the pitcher's mound will be six different players who can interchange as starters and relievers. Cook will be behind the plate calling the signals.
"We have enough guys that can go out there and give us quality innings on the mound that we should be able to compete with almost anyone," Hinton said. "Having five right-handers and one left-hander allows us to look at matchups and use each guy in a way that they can be successful."
Wayne Christian opened the season Friday at Carolina Christian 1-A Conference foe Grace Christian of Sanford. The Eagles open the home portion of their schedule today against The Epiphany School from New Bern.