WCDS baseball preview
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 9, 2012 1:48 PM
A week and a half before Wayne Country Day's season opener, members of its team were on a school trip in Greece. Perhaps that is not exactly what head coach Michael Taylor was referring to when he said, "Wayne Country Day baseball is on the map."
Fresh off an appearance in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state quarterfinals last season, the Chargers return four seniors and experience in key positions.
WCDS played a number of close ball games against some of the state's top independent schools last season. The Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs by state-ranked Lawrence Academy; and came up just short last season against Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference foes Faith Christian-Rocky Mount and Greenfield.
Faith Christian eventually won the state title.
Greenfield fell in the state semifinals.
Taylor is hoping the experience his team gained last season pays off in a big way.
"When you go and look at last year, we were in a lot of those games," Taylor said. "We lost to Faith Christian twice and Greenfield twice. We were right there with both of those teams. We feel like Wayne Country Day baseball is on the map. When people come play us they know they're going to get a good game.
"We feel like tough games get us ready for the state playoffs."
Senior catcher Hil Tanner, who caught every inning a year ago is back, along with senior starting pitcher Cole Davis. Senior Trent Proimos possesses the versatility to play either on the infield or in the outfield. Fellow senior Josh Jackson is expected to start in right field.
Junior left-hander Thomas Kierski has caught Taylor's eye during bullpen sessions and could also see time in center field or at first base. Junior Cody Neal can play both the infield and outfield as well as pitch. Neal, Kierski and Davis are being counted on to fill the void left by senior Tyson Pearson, who was the Chargers' workhorse on the mound last season.
"We lost Tyson Pearson and people need to step up and carry his role," Taylor said. "Every year I lose special ball players. You have to find someone who is ready to go. We have a lot of leaders coming back from last year and I'm looking forward to the season."
Freshman Mason Bland started nearly every game last season as an eighth grader. Bland has demonstrated refreshing leadership for a freshman and should alternate between either corner infield position -- first or third base -- this spring.
During initial batting practices, Wayne Country Day appears to have transitioned smoothly to the newly-mandated BBCOR bats. The Chargers have demonstrated a willingness to adjust to Taylor's philosophy of hitting to the backside.
"We've been hitting with wood bats in practice since last year," Taylor said. "You can tell a difference with the BBCOR bats because the ball doesn't carry as far. We're going to have to play situational baseball. I always preach hit the ball to the backside, and my guys have come back stronger and are hitting the ball to the backside."