ARDEN – One of the biggest challenges Christ School baseball may face this year could simply come in the form of keeping the young team focused on the task at hand.
“Our biggest weakness is that we’re babies. We’re young,” Christ School coach Pat James said. “We’re pretty good and young, though. We’ve got some young kids who can play.”
Christ School lost five of its starters from last year’s 18-3 team, including David Easterling, an All-Carolinas Athletic Association player who transferred to Cobb School in Atlanta for his senior season.
The Greenies (0-2 before a pair of games Saturday in the Forsyth Country Day Baseball Showcase) have 19 players dressing out for the season. Of those 19, two are seniors and three are juniors.
It can be a process to keep the younger guys on task, but there’s also a lot of fun involved, said senior Ryan Zwier.
Zwier returned as the team’s leading hitter from last season, when he had a .541 batting average.
“You have to embrace it. You can’t fight it,” Zwier said. “I’m used to having a bunch of older kids and being one of the younger kids, but this year, I’m the oldest kid. It’s tough, but you just have to grind through it with your brothers. You have to treat them as equals. You can’t treat them as underclassman.”
Junior William Fleming said the main part of playing with younger guys is knowing how to communicate with them and let them know when they need to correct something.
Flemming, who has committed to play college baseball for Wake Forest, was an All-CAA conference selection last season with a .366 batting average.
“Making them aware of what their mistakes were and how to correct it. Especially when it gets later in the season and the playoffs come around that they just don’t make that same mistake again that happened earlier on in the season,” Fleming said.
The Greenies will rely on their pitching and defense as their major strengths this season.
They should be able to go six or seven deep in their pitching rotation, James said.
“I would say our biggest strength this year is definitely our pitching and our defense,” Zwier said.
Before the season started, Christ School played in a tournament in Florida where they went 3-0, outscoring their opponents 25-3 over the three games. Although those games don’t count toward the Greenies’ regular-season record, it is a sign that things are looking up.
“In that tournament, it came down to our pitching and our defense a lot,” Zwier said. “We struggled sometimes with our bats and in the field, but overall, I’m glad that we got better. We just have to keep rolling. We can’t be content with what we have. We have to keep pushing forward.”
The Greenies made two errors and walked five batters in those three games. It all comes down to being able to throw strikes and make plays, James said.
Overall, there is a feeling of excitement from Zwier and Fleming about seeing how much this team can grow over the course of the season.
“I’m most excited about seeing how our younger players develop and see how we come together as a team because we lost five of our starters from last year and only have three returning starters in the field,” Zwier said. “It’s going to be tough, but It’ll be fun along the way.”
Fleming said he believes they can make huge improvements during the season, and if they come together as a team, they have a chance to be really good at the end of the season.
“Potentially, I think we will be in the battle for the conference championship,” James said. “We will be in the battle to qualify for the state tournament and with the development and maturity of the kids, we could make a pretty good run as they develop.”