There has been no shortage of action on the fields at Mecklenburg County High School recently as the local teams are busy preparing for the start of spring sports.
There will be plenty of games in Baskerville this spring as the high-school is fielding varsity teams in baseball, softball, boys soccer, girls soccer and outdoor track and field and also fielding junior varsity teams in baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer.
The Middle School will have baseball, softball and track teams competing.
As with all spring sports, Mecklenburg County HS athletic director Chris Martin said one important key will be Mother Nature.
“We are hoping for good weather,” he said.
Following is an outlook for the local high-school teams in their debut season in the Piedmont District.
Varsity baseball coach Todd Seate begins the first season in Phoenix history with four seniors and some talented underclassmen.
“I think we are looking pretty good,” he said recently. “Defensively I think we will be good and I think pitching will be fine. We are just behind on hitting with the weather and everything else. We’ve just got to get some swings in.”
The pitching staff this season will be anchored by seniors Cameron Shook and Cody Hoffer and junior Jake Brame.
“They will be our workhorses on the mound,” Seate said.
The other two seniors on the roster are outfielders Zach Peregoy and Kwondrey Coleman.
“We’ve got a good group of juniors, a few sophomores, and two freshmen,” said Seate.
Russ Webb is a transfer right fielder who has a big upside for the Phoenix.
Seate said he looks for Halifax to be strong in the Piedmont District as they return a solid nucleus and good pitching and he also looks for Tunstall and Bassett to be in the mix.
“The district will be strong,” he said. “I have reminded the kids that we have moved up a level but I think we will hold our own. As always, the ultimate goal for any team is to win the state title.”
Seate admitted it will be an adjustment playing at the Class 4 level this season and it will be important for his players to come prepared.
“I am sure there will be some growing pains but we will have to come ready to play every game,” he said.
Seate will be assisted by Ted Greenly this season while Todd Sykes will serve as the JV coach.
Another team expected to be strong this spring is the varsity softball team that will be coached by Jamie King and Waverly Jackson.
“They are looking good,” said King, who previously served as the Middle School head coach and was a long-time assistant coach at Bluestone High School from 2004-2015. “We are just trying to get the foundation laid down. This is a good group of girls.”
The Mecklenburg team has four seniors that have already committed to play college softball next year. They are Alex Love who will play at the University of Lynchburg, Tori Powell who signed with Randolph-Macon College, Carrington Sasser who will play at Bluefield University and Cassidy Newcomb who signed with Mary Baldwin.
Senior power hitter Jordyn Jackson will also be a big bat in the lineup for the Lady Phoenix.
Batting and defense should be strengths for the Lady Phoenix. The Mecklenburg girls also have several pitchers on the roster they can call on for mound duty.
The Lady Phoenix have 18 players on the varsity roster and 17 on the junior varsity team.
“We are keeping ball players,” said King.
The veteran skipper said he expects his team to be in the mix in the Piedmont District this spring.
“I think we will be competitive,” he said. “We will have to come ready to play.”
Patrick Love and Tracey Puryear, the Mecklenburg County teacher of the year, will coach the junior varsity team this season.
The boys soccer team has some talent returning from last year’s Park View and Bluestone teams and are hoping to be in the mix in the Piedmont District race this season.
“The team looks good,” said Head Coach Pepe Pacheco. “They are working very hard to understand the ideas that (assistant coach) Luke Wilson and I are trying to convey to them. Some already have it but for others obviously, it is a new way of playing but they are on the right track.”
The squad has two young men, Conner Malone and Walter Hernandez, that have experience playing with the Richmond Kickers travel teams.
“We also have two seniors that have been with me for eight years in Nick Vaughan and Chase Crabel who are very strong,” said Pacheco. “With the work we are doing, we hope that soon the other players will join the way we want them to play.”
Pacheco said the new district will provide a challenge.
“We know that it is a new district and that we will play with very strong schools but we believe that we will be able to compete at a good level,” said Pacheco. “We have players who know what they have to do and are committed to the team. Our goal for this season is to be able to place among the top four teams and participate in the district tournament and (take it) step by step and game by game. We will work very hard as we are doing to go as far as possible.”
“We are looking strong,” Mecklenburg County High School girls soccer coach Josh Carroll said. “We have girls that are really excited to be a part of this new culture.”
The Lady Phoenix have five seniors on this year’s roster. “They are bringing a lot of leadership in different ways,” he said.
Carroll expects the competition to be tough in the Piedmont District.
“We are expecting some stiff completion in the Piedmont, more than we have ever seen at either school,” Carrol said.
The Lady Phoenix were scheduled to scrimmage EC Glass on Tuesday, a team expected to be a state title contender.
“Our team goal is to earn a bid into the regional tournament,” he said.
Vickie Soyars will serve as an assistant coach this season.
Track and Field
Mecklenburg track and field coach Shaun Talley has good numbers and said he is pleased with what he has seen over the first two weeks of practice.
“This team is looking very promising,” he said. “It is a group of kids that are eager to learn. I have roughly 85 kids out and a lot of good athletes this year.”
Talley said he will look to get the best out of the athletes as he hopes to see a number qualify for the regional and state meet.
“I always expect greatness out of all my athletes,” Talley said. “Our goal is always to have fun and qualify for the regionals and state championships early!”
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