No matter where you are when you watch a Glynn Academy Red Terrors baseball game, you can expect to see the duo of Trent Tankersley and Hank Noonan attached in some way, shape or form.
Hitting three and four in the red hot Terrors lineup or playing the hot corners together, the two have provided numbers that are of serious virtue.
For Tankersley if he’s not at third base, he’s behind the plate. And if he’s not behind the plate calling the pitches, he’s delivering the pitch with max effort every single pitch.
“It’s a little tough on my arm, but it’s just a benefit to the team,” Tankersley said of being a team-first guy. “So, I’m willing and down to do it, it helps the team.”
Having a 3-1 record on the mound with a 2.88 ERA, Tankersley is the true definition of a plug-and -play type of player. In the field he has a .949 fielding percentage, and behind the plate he’s gunned down two base runners.
It’s when he’s behind the plate where he’s helped Noonan prepare for what opposing batters are going to do during at-bats.
“When he’s catching and I’m at third, he has a lot of knowledge on the hitter because he’s seen them so many times from different spots,” Noonan said of Tankersley’s ability being the plate. “So he will tell me the tendencies of the hitters. If he’s more of a pull guys he will tell me to play down the line more and if he’s a fast I move up and be ready for a bunt. He really helps me with where I need to be over there sometimes.”
As for when the two play the hot corners, Noonan can’t help but rave about Tankersley’s ability to make plays.
“When I’m at first and he’s at third, we just have a trust and bond sort of to where I know a ball that’s hit to him I know he’s going to make a play,” Noonan said. “I have a ton of confidence in him. He’s a great player.”
That bond rolls over to the plate where Tankersley and Noonan are the three four hitters in a lineup that has produced an average of 6.9 runs a game. Hitting in the three hole, Tankersley has a .341 average with an OPS of .896 with four extra base hits (one home run) and eight RBI. He pointed out that the approach at the plate has been to choke up on the bat and to put the ball in play.
Having Noonan behind him has forced opposing pitchers to give Tankersley pitches he can put in play.
“That does play a role because they know Hank is coming up,” Tankersley said of seeing the best pitches. “Hank is definitely one of those guys where if you leave a ball over the plate he’s going to hit the mess out of it. I usually do get a lot of curve balls still, but a good bit of fastballs too, while Hank just gets curve balls.”
Noonan did just that, as he hit for the cycle during the teams 14-4 region win over Effingham County on Monday.
“I’ve never hit for the cycle before,” Noonan said of the achievement. “It was a really cool experience to have that opportunity in the last at-bat to try and hit for a home run to get the cycle. I got a pitch to do it.”
Hitting .575 in the heart of the order with an OPS of 1.562, eight extra base hits (two home runs), 20 RBI, and 19 runs, Noonan said football had a key part in his improvement on the baseball field.
“I’m just seeing the ball a lot better and one thing that has truly helped me is football,” Noonan said. “Football helped me build a lot of muscle that I didn’t have before. It helped me with my speed, my bat speed as well. Football I think has really helped me with that, and I just worked really hard over the summer and fall trying to get my swing where I wanted it. Its all clicking right now.”
Noonan did point out that some of the help has come with Tankersley hitting in front of him and giving him a boost of confidence to help the team.
“It’s nice to know I’m going to see at least a strike or two in my bat and knowing he’s going to get a strike as well,” Noonan said of their at-bats. “When he gets a fastball he’s going to hit it really hard and if it’s at someone, it’s at someone. He’s going to hit the ball almost every at bat. That helps me because that gives me confidence of saying ‘OK, Trent is going to do something good here, so I just need to follow up here and keep the energy up and the confidence up with the team.’ It been a great combo so far this year.”
Clicking on all cylinders, Noonan was recently named the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame Player of the Series for the City Championship Series where he went 7-10 with 9 RBI and four runs scored to help Glynn Academy take the series over rivals Brunswick High.
As for the Do Something Different motto that Glynn manager John Welborn has put into place, Noonan went into more detail about how the team has fixed things at the plate and in the field.
“I think one thing offensively that we needed to do was cut down on our strikeouts,” Noonan said. “Last year we did strikeout a lot and when we heard Do Something Different, we wanted to rally drive that home. It’s hard especially in high school because if you put the ball in play the odds of you being successful are going to be high. In high school it’s so likely that something bad is going to happen with people moving around and the game going too fast. It’s just cool to see that when we do that, everything plays out like (Monday) did.
“Defensively I’d say just try to minimize errors. We have had tendencies to loose balls with simple errors that we can’t make. When we get everything cleaned up and for hard in practice with our fielding, we play well. When we have zero or one errors in the game we usually win the game which is good to see.”
One important reason is when Tankersley takes the mound, the whole team has to be ready.
“(Tanks) a really, really good pitcher and when he’s on the mound, we know we are going to get a 110 percent from him, his max effort every single pitch,” Noonan said. “When he throws and works down, he gets a lot of ground balls. So when he does that we know as a defense and the infield knows we’re going to get a lot of ground balls today. We have to be ready every day and he really fills it up and throws a lot of strikes, so we know we have to be ready every single pitch. When we do that, we tend to make less errors because we are always ready and prepared to field the ball and throw the ball.”
The close-knit friendship the two have created dates back to the gridiron as the two, along with fellow baseball players Tyler Devlin and Ryan Schueneman, spent nearly every second together.
“(We) all played football together this year and it switched over to baseball so we all grew closer during the fall,” Tankersley said. It helped out big.”
Noonan added that although the two aren’t in the same grade, they share a friendship that will last forever.
The duo will look to continue its strong seasons for the Red Terrors as they host Effingham County in the second game of the series at 6 p.m. at Wainwright Field tonight.