Local high school baseball teams are starting their seasons, and the North Gwinnett Voice talked with the head coaches to find out what to expect.
Buford High School
After being knocked out in the second round of the state playoffs by Pope last year, Buford head coach Stuart Chester sees a lot of positives in this season’s team.
“I think our greatest strength will be our starting rotation on the mound with (Dylan) Lesko, (Jackson) Gaspard and (Riley) Stanford,” Chester said.
Though he views his pitching rotation as a strong point, Chester also highlighted the importance of the team playing as a whole, cohesive unit.
“Every player on our team is as important as the other. From our number one pitcher to our younger guys fighting for a position, we are all family,” he said.
Chester would like to see the team improve offensively this year. He praised Terry McClure, the team’s hitting coach, and Chester is excited to see how much progress the team can make at bat this season.
“I think the community will see a unified team that focuses on the little things. One throw, one swing at a time,” Chester said. “It will be a fun group to watch. They love the game of baseball but more importantly, love Buford!”
Lanier High School
Lanier High School got knocked out in the first round of playoffs last year by East Paulding, but head coach Colby May knows his players’ strong drive and team-focused mentality will help them to achieve this season.
“I expect this team to compete every pitch,” May said. “They are hungry for success and will have success if they continue to do the small things the right way.”
When asked to highlight some of his top players, coach May said, “I would name all of my players because they lead and help this team.”
He did, however, mention that Andrew Walton, Chandler Hawkins, Garrett Ladd, Ethan Davis, Jeremy Scott and Andrew Marcantel had all signed to play baseball at the college level.
“Our players love to compete and play the game,” May said. “They enjoy learning new concepts and growing daily. Our program has a bright future ahead.”
North Gwinnett High School
At North Gwinnett High School, head baseball coach Ryan Moity is confident in his team’s speed and strength after the varsity boys were knocked out of the second round of playoffs last year by Denmark High School.
“Our guys have bought into our off-season program and have gotten really strong and really fast … Week one, we hit 7 (homeruns) and and stole 10 bases in 4 games,” Moity said.
While the team’s physicality is in top shape, Moity does see a lack of experience as one of their potential challenges. Noting how young his lineup is in many places as well as a general deficit of varsity experience, the coach is excited to see how his players can improve each and every day as their experience grows.
Despite the team’s youth, Moity has high praise for his standout players, both old and new. He highlighted senior Sebastian Rutledge, who is the team’s most experienced returner with 42 hits last year.
He also commended Mack Cromer and Tyler Bak for their elite defending abilities, as well as their prowess over the plate.
Sophomores Erik Parker and Nathan Kindland also received mention for their performances both on the field and in terms of maturity and leadership.
“Expect us to play hard and fast,” Moity said. “We will make mistakes … it’s baseball … a hard game, but we will make them full speed.
“Our team has some good leadership and is filled with guys that love the game, work hard, compete and play for each other,” he added. “This is a group that has gotten zero recognition this pre-season and I expect that to serve as motivation for them.”