The Brunswick High Pirates open their baseball season today at Benedictine with a young team that coach Brian Crawford believes has lots of potential to grow.
“We’re going to be competitive,” he said. “We feel confident about our program’s future.”
The Pirates are coming off a 13-18 season, where they were bounced out of the state playoffs last year in the first round. Crawford said he believes his team should be above .500 this year with potential to win 20 games, and to return to the state playoffs.
His team is returning six seniors from last year’s squad, including two starting pitchers. A junior reliever from last year’s starting team and another junior pitcher is expected to play a major role this season, he said.
The team also has group of sophomores who could see lots of playing time.
“We look young. We’ve got lots of room to grow,” he said. “The older players will get some opportunities.”
Crawford said his team’s strengths are pitch command, processing offensive strengths and base running. His team needs to do a better job learning to process the game and accept failure when it happens.
The teams to beat in Region 2-6A are Effingham, Richmond Hill and Glynn Academy, the returning region champion.
The Red Terrors also open their season Monday at Camden High, but Friday will be the biggest day of the new season when the Red Terrors host their first home game at the new Wainwright Field.
St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Adam Wainwright, who donated about $1 million to help build the new athletic complex and does many other things to support his alma mater, will throw out the opening pitch 6 p.m. after a dedication ceremony.
First-year Red Terrors’ coach Trent Mongero said the team’s goal is to repeat as region champion and he believes they have a good chance despite so many changes coming into this season.
“We lost some quality players who contributed to the success of last year’s team,” he said. “Everything is new.”
The team is seeking a new identity with a new coach bringing in a new system at a new ball field.
“The biggest challenge is learning a new system,” he said.
Players and coaches are still learning some of the field’s nuances such as how the sunset and wind off the marsh will affect play. So far, only two home runs have been hit over the fence in practice, and the first one was hit by Adam Wainwright.
“The ball does not carry in this park,” Mongero said.
His outfielders have been working on fly ball routes and the best way to defend hits.
“If we can’t play out there, we will be exposed,” he said. “I feel like we’ll play good defense.”
Mongero said his team’s strengths are a good balance between offense and defense, a strong batting order and pitching.
The players are focused on the first regular-season game Monday against Camden, but after that game excitement will build throughout the week for opening day at Wainwright Field.
“Once Monday passes and we turn our attention to Friday, the vibes will be strong,” he said. “The guys are thrilled.”
The grandstands are expected to be packed on opening day in what Mongero said will be almost like a playoff atmosphere.
Wainwright will toss the opening pitch Friday after a dedication ceremony. Mongero said Wainwright has shown up to some practices and has a big impact on the players.
“That doesn’t happen very often. He’s just one of the guys,” he said of a major-league player returning to his old high school.
As reigning region champions, Mongero said many consider Glynn Academy the team to beat this year.
“We can’t overlook anyone,” he said. “We expect to see everybody’s best game.”