Coaches at Frederica Academy encourage athletes to play multiple sports — sometimes at their own team’s expense.
Seven football players are on the Knights’ baseball team, along with four basketball players who couldn’t practice on the diamond until their season ended last month.
Coach Greg Roberts said the school’s baseball team, 3-1, didn’t start practicing until three weeks ago, and region play starts today.
It won’t take long for the athletes who joined the team late to catch up with players who have had longer to practice hitting and fielding, he said.
“I’m all for athletes playing numerous sports,” he said. “They’re used to having to compete and prepare for goals.”
With such a short schedule, players who joined the team late are still getting their timing down at the plate and sharpening their defensive skills on the field.
“You’d like to have enough games to prepare for region play,” he said. “We’re hitting and pitching well.”
The area the team needs to work on is communicating when they are on the field. Roberts said.
“I’d like to see us do a better job on the field defensively,” he said.
From what he’s seen so far, Roberts said his team should compete for a GISA Region 2-3A title.
“We have a very good baseball team,” he said.
There is a lot of uncertainty about which are the teams to beat in the region this season because of coaching changes and the loss of players from other teams, he said.
“There are a lot of new faces this year. I like it that way,” he said.
The number of games played so far has been few but the teams have been a good test for the Knights, he said.
Many questions about the team will be answered starting today when region play begins. The Knights travel to Waynesboro to face Edumund Burke Academy, 5-1, in what will be the first of 11 games played by the end of the month.
“Having a short non-region schedule, you don’t know,” he said. “I think we’ll know more the next two weeks.”
The last two games of the month will be non-region games against two of the top private school baseball programs in the state. The Knights host Tatnall Square Academy on March 30 and Darlington School on March 31.
Roberts said the two games against Tatnall and Darlington during spring break will help gauge where his team is at near the mid point of the season.
Trent Mongero, coach of the Glynn Academy Red Terrors, didn’t have to worry about a short pre-Region 2-6A schedule. His team is a perfect 12-0 to start the season.
“The more games you can get under your belt before region play the better,” he said. “You get a better look at the guys and different situations.”
He didn’t have to wait on basketball players to join his varsity baseball team this season, but he does have four starters who also played football. Mongero said he likes multi-sport athletes as well.
“There’s a certain mental toughness football creates,” he said. “I’m a huge proponent of athletes playing multiple sports.”
In his first year as the Terrors’ head coach, Mongero has his team off to a fast start, but there’s work to do.
“We have to do a better job playing up to our full potential, regardless of who our opponent is,” he said. “We’ve found a way to win.”
The Terrors have played a tough schedule to prepare for region play, which begins March 21 when they host Bradwell.
As for the unblemished record, Mongero said his team is only focused on today’s game against South Effingham.
“I really work hard on not getting ahead of ourselves,” he said. “Our goal is not to go undefeated. I don’t think the guys are thinking along those lines.”
Instead, the goal going into each game against region opponents is to win the series, he said.
While the team is off to a great start, Mongero said an injury or player suspension could derail a promising season.
“We’re not taking anyone for granted,” he said. “We have a huge task ahead of us. It’s dangerous to get looking ahead.”
Brunswick High is also off to a fast start, posting a 11-3 non-region record with two games to go, including today at Camden County, before conference play begins at Richmond Hill on March 19.
Coach Brian Crawford said he likes the way his team has progressed so far.
“The kids are buying in,” he said. “They are trusting the process to get us through it. They’re chipping away at the little things here and there.”
The team’s tenacity is the reason the Pirates have an 11-3 record instead of a 9-5 record, Crawford said.
“The boys don’t quit,” he said. “They’re a bunch of fighters.”
The team’s strengths are pitching, defense and speed, especially on the bases, he said.
“The pitching staff has good command and they hit their spots,” he said.
The team has also lost opportunities to put games away with a timely hit or two.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve left an inning with the bases loaded,” he said.
The tough non-conference schedule includes teams like Camden and Wayne County, where Crawford said the talent level is comparable to region teams.
The main competition in the region will be Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill, but the teams are beatable, he said.
“You will have to get some breaks and take advantage of them,” he said. “They’re both talented groups.”