UP Baseball Opens With New Coach
Three seniors that have already signed to play baseball at the next level provide a good place to start when considering the prospects for the Union Pines baseball team.
First-year coach Chad Hill has noticed that UNC-Asheville signees Bryan Collins and Carson McLean, and Matt Key, who is inked with UNC-Pembroke, are typically the first players on the field for practice and among the last to leave.
He also puts his other three seniors, Sam Buie, Drew Robinson and Yorke Sweat in the same mold.
"Watching how these guys go about their business," Hill says, "and how it translates into on field success, I couldn't ask for a better group of seniors."
Collins, McLean, Key and Buie, who is expected to sign with a college soon, were all recruited primarily for their pitching. Collins and McLean were both all-conference selections last year. When not pitching, Collins is expected to be at first base, McLean at shortstop, Key at second or third and Buie in right field.
Sweat is in the mix for the catcher position along with junior Chris Holt. The hard-hitting Robinson is likely to play first, serve as a designated hitter and pitch.
Rounding out the infield, junior Matt Kinker is available for one of the middle positions and sophomore Todd Collins has been making a bid for the starting job at third base.
In addition to Buie in the outfield, juniors Peyton Martin, Cole Parris, Curtis Frye and Nick Carter are competing for the other two spots.
A three-sport athlete at North Moore, and a two-time All-South Atlantic Conference shortstop at Catawba before his graduation in 2003, Hill is the Vikings' sixth head baseball coach in the last seven years.
After making some progress under Scott Blue in his one year at the helm, the Vikings will try to move up in the Cape Valley Conference standings and gain a spot in the state playoffs.
After Triton went undefeated in the conference last season, Hill is looking for a more balanced league this time around.
"From everybody I've talked to," the coach says, "there isn't going to be a take-off game. You're going to have to bring your "A" game every night.
"I think our strong points are going to be our pitching and defense. I think those things will determine how far we can go."
When he accepted the coaching position in January, Hill said that his main focus would be on fundamentals. He feels that so far, the team is buying into his philosophies.
"They seem pretty open to new suggestions," he says. "We have to do a few things differently and a few things better."
Assisting Hill with the varsity are Chris Zeh, Bobby Purvis and Marlon Davis. Rob Hooks is leading the jayvee team with help from Andrew Clendenin.
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