03/01/13 — BASEBALL TAB -- Eagles' leadership will come from sophomores

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BASEBALL TAB -- Eagles' leadership will come from sophomores

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 1, 2013 1:47 PM

Three Wayne Christian baseball players, including the team MVP, stepped across the stage and received their diploma last May.

They left the tradition-rich program in the hands of young and somewhat experienced underclassmen who won't have any junior or senior leadership on the diamond this spring. The 14 players directed by second-year head coach Curt Hinton expect to contend -- and claim -- the Eagles' ninth straight Carolina Christian 1-A Conference tournament championship.

Seven full- or part-time starters return off last year's squad that logged a 15-6 worksheet and dropped an opening-round game to CCC foe Grace Christian of Sanford in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs.

The roster is compiled of 10 sophomores, two freshmen and two eighth-graders.

"The thing about these guys, all of them I've coached along with (assistant) Lee Price since they were T-ball players ... really it seems like since they were wearing diapers," Hinton laughed. "Yes, there is immaturity at that age and it's expected. We've told them what we expect as coaches and we're taking a no-nonsense approach with them.

"They know about the tradition. Us, as coaches, we're taking the approach that we're a young team with nothing to lose."

Hunter Burt, Cameron Foss and Tyler Mozingo have healed from injuries that slowed their respective progress last season. Burt had surgery on a growth plate in his elbow, while Foss underwent a knee operation. Mozingo missed six months due to a torn pectoral muscle.

Burt is projected to play behind the dish and at second base. Foss is part of the pitching rotation along with left-hander Bryce Norman and eighth-grade righty Holden Foster.

Norman is a left-hander with a natural screwball that tails away from the batter. He's also got solid off-speed stuff in his arsenal and good movement on his fastball. Foss can challenge batters with a two- and four-seam fastball and is capable of throwing an effective change-up.

Foster played travel ball last season and Hinton said his innings will be limited since he doesn't want to over-expose the him to the varsity game.

"They give us a nice 1-2 punch on either side (of the rubber)," Hinton said. "I'm anticipating Norman and Foss will start most of the varsity games, especially in conference. They will have to consistently throw strikes."

Mozingo will play the hot corner (third base) when he's not on the mound. Sophomore outfielder Brandon Price worked on his offensive game in the offseason and will move into the clean-up spot.

Sophomore Trey Hinton is a second baseman/outfielder, while sophomore Tanner Rose should split time at first base with the varsity and see time as a JV pitcher.

Hinton expects to get playing either offensive or defensive production from eighth-grade utility player Carlisle Smith and four outfielders -- freshman Ryan Kennedy and sophomores Tyler Wallace, Nick Easom and Austin Sutton.

League coaches predict Wayne Christian will finish behind Cape Fear Christian, Community Christian and Grace in CCC regular-season play.

The snub doesn't bother Hinton.

"I think our players are confident even though they are young, but they also expect to win," Hinton said. "If we can stay away from injuries, I think can win the conference championship and that is always our goal. Hopefully, we can make a good run in the states if things go right."

Wayne Christian opens its season Friday at Greenville Christian and begins a stretch of four consecutive home games March 5 against CCC foe Trinity Academy of Raleigh.