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Batter up: baseball season is underway

Published 12:01pm Friday, March 21, 2014

FRANKLIN—Private schools are already two weeks into the season, though rain has postponed several games, and the public schools are set to start soon.

Franklin will start the season off Tuesday against Windsor, Southampton starts off against Colonial Heights on March 24, and Windsor will play Bruton on Saturday.

Southampton Academy has started off the season 3-0, Isle of Wight 1-1 and Tidewater Academy 2-0.

Franklin

Head Coach Tommy Britt is coming into his first season in Franklin, and he’s looking to turn the program around.

“Last year, I was told that we only won four games,” he said. “But I’ve seen a tremendous amount of pride in what we are doing from the kids. They see me and the assistant coaches taking this program serious, trying to boost us to compete with the other established programs, and they are taking it more seriously.”

Britt said it would be a team effort this year.

“We have some seniors who will be key contributors, but I don’t think anyone stands out right now,” he said. “As a team, we are plenty athletic, we have a lot of speed and potential. We’re working on developing the fundamentals to get where we want to be.”

In his first year, Britt said he wants to teach the kids to have a stronger work ethic, to be more motivated, and to instill in them a will to win.

“I’m willing to spend the time with the athletes, and put in the extra work,” he said. “I have two assistant coaches who are there every day.

“We’re trying to develop new skills and fundamentals, and enhance the skills we have. The kids are really athletic.”

Southampton

The Indians were 17-1 this past season and lost in the regional semi-finals. Head Coach Wes Griffith said the goal is to one-up last year, and make a run in the state tournament.

“We have a good group of core guys,” he said. “We did lose some seniors, but there is a still a good group of guys who have played a lot of baseball.”

Five seniors are back, which includes two Division 1 signees, Tanner Winters, a starting pitcher who signed with VCU, and Hayden Spalding, an infielder who signed with Navy.

“We shouldn’t lose a beat from last year,” said Griffith. “These guys ought to be able to carry us.”

Hunter Peck will also be a contributor on the mound.

“He’ll pitch once a week,” he said.

Windsor

Windsor Head Coach Robert Hedrick, in his second season, said he has high expectations on his team, which is coming off a 13-7 season.

“I’m expecting a deep run,” he said. “Obviously, in the district, but in conference play as well. I’m hoping we’ll have a run and get to play in states.”

While he’s losing seven seniors, Hedrick said he feels like the newcomers are sliding right in.

“We have tried to do a great job building off of our JV program,” he said. “When they get to varsity, they are ready to roll.”

Some key newcomers are Gregory Ashburn, Phillip Carr and Hunter Williams. Williams, along with Cory Childress, a sophomore, are going to be the ace pitchers.

Losing Lance Sexton to a broken hand last season was tough, and Hedrick said it would be good to get him back. Drew Parsain is another key player returning to the lineup, but Hedrick said he could go on and on.

“Our guys are really team-oriented,” he said. “They see the potential that we have, and they know how far we can go. We’re excited. We just wish it would stop raining so we could get some games in.”

Windsor begins play against Bruton on Saturday, which is scheduled to be a road game, but could be played in Windsor depending on the field condition at Bruton.

Southampton Academy

Returning all of his starters from this past year, Head Coach Tim Nixon said expectations are to top last season’s 19-4 record.

“We’ve got an older team, and we’re very mature,” Nixon said. “All of them have played together for some time. We’ve got a good nucleus to do well this year.”

Starting off 3-0, one of the most impressive things was the fielding.

“We have not made an error this year, which is really rare,” he said.

Oh, and they’ve also scored 50 runs in three games.

“We just hit the ball,” Nixon said. “We just went from base to base. We didn’t try to steal or do anything other than just get on base.”

He said he’d like to highlight the whole team, as they are playing well as a unit.

“All of them are doing well,” he said. “If we take care of business, and we pitch well, I think we will do just fine.”

One big boost has been the addition of two assistant coaches, Tim Hodges and Matt Nixon.

“The guys are responding well to them,” he said. “Practices have been a lot faster with them running them. Everything is quick, get in, get out, and I think that’s been making a difference. There’s no standing around doing nothing.”

The Raiders were scheduled to play Thursday against Richmond Christian, and the game ended after deadline. They are next scheduled to play Tidewater Academy in Wakefield on Tuesday.

Isle of Wight Academy

Head Coach Ben Brown could not be reached for comment.

Isle of Wight are 1-1, and have had three games postponed due to rain. They defeated Broadwater Academy 7-5 on March 11, and were defeated by Southampton Academy 10-0.

They were scheduled to play Peninsula Catholic Thursday, after deadline. They will be in action again on Tuesday against Walsingham Academy.

Tidewater Academy

With a young team, Head Coach Paul Rogers Jr. said playing .500 ball is his goal.

“We lost five seniors from last year, and we have a real young team,” he said. “.500 baseball would be a good season.”

Rogers said he only has 12 kids on the team, and outside of senior Daniel McKenney, he’s still figuring out pitching. Another key player, Peyton Holdsworth, is injured and won’t play for 2-3 weeks.

“We are young and have no power hitters,” said Rogers. “We’ll just have to develop pitching and power. I hope our boys can throw strikes and that the defense backs them up respectably.”

The Warriors are starting out 2-0. They defeated Kenston Forest 4-3, and Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot 22-12.

“The game against BSH, who is also young, was a game of walks,” he said. “I think there were 12 walks in that game.”

Tuesday’s game against Richmond Christian was rained out. They were set to play Brunswick Academy on the road Thursday after deadline. They are set to play Nansemond-Suffolk Academy today in Wakefield.

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