By: Hunter Ridge
Another day closer to the start of North Carolina High School baseball here in the great state! Today, we traveled down to Fayetteville and sat down with Head Coach Sam Guy of Terry Sanford. If you know anything about Terry Sanford Baseball, they always put a really good product on the field and are always in the mix..
What’s the outlook on the Bulldogs?
“We’re going to be fairly young this year. We are replacing our 1, 2 and 3 on the mound as well as finding new outfielders who all graduated last year. However, we have a good core group of returners and some really good freshmen and sophomores. I expect us to be a lot better at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year, but we won’t be bad at the beginning either.”
What’s the strengths of this year’s club?
“I think our infield will be really really strong defensively. Also, our guys on the mound will be young and inexperienced at the varsity level, but they will gain that experience with each game, and like I said before, I think they are fairly talented.”
What are some key games on this year’s schedule?
“Honestly, every game is a key game. We preach that the most important game of the year is the game we are getting ready to play. So, our two scrimmage dates will be key to narrowing down to who will win starting positions and then we start the season against the defending 4A East Regional Champions, the Pinecrest Patriots. So, right now, that is the most important game of the year, and then it will move to our second game against Jack Britt. Then, just repeat through the entire schedule.”
Who are some names on the Bulldogs 2023 roster we should look for?
Brent Smith is a junior shortstop that was our Conference Player of the Year last year, so hopefully he will have a great year. He has definitely worked his butt off in the weight room and has gotten significantly stronger. Another guy I think might have a great year is Ethan Nobles. He is a sophomore that earned a starting position as a Freshman last year. He is a third baseman and will be up there in our pitching rotation. Other returners are Drew Kittinger, an All Conference catcher, who will be asked to pull other duties this year as well. He will still be catching, but this year our pitching staff will mostly be two way guys, so he is going to be asked to pitch some and possibly play some outfield or first base depending on who is pitching to keep our best hitters in the lineup. Josh Hart, a sophomore and Wills Noon, a junior, look to be some guys that might be able to really help us on the mound along with Davis McLamb, Nic Lane, Josh Mozingo, Brent Smith, Holden Reaves and Drew Kittinger rounding out the pitching staff. We have Nic Lane, Jacob Reames, Davis McLamb, Benny Whiteaker and Ryan Seagroves battling for some outfield positions with Ryan Seagroves being a guy that will play outfield and infield this year depending on who is pitching. He is truly a utility player. Plays each position very well. Lance Noon will be asked to do some catching duties and possibly play some third base, depending on who is pitching. Our core hitters will be Brent Smith, Gehrig Hodges, Alex Smith, Ethan Nobles, Drew Kittinger and hoping to have some great offensive output from Nic Lane, Benny Whiteaker, Josh Mozzingo, Ryan Seagroves, Jacob Reames and Davis McLamb. We also have some guys that might emerge from our underclassmen that could battle for a starting position as well. If they don’t earn a starting position on varsity, then I will have them on JV as well to get their game reps and experience in until they do earn a starting position at the varsity level or just finish the year on JV if they don’t. We always preach TEAM, and this year it will definitely be a true team effort if we are to make any noise.
When thinking about Terry Sanford baseball, what’s one word that comes to mind?
“Hard Work, I know that’s two words, but Hard Work sums it up. People say Tradition never graduates, and I say that is not the case. I believe that tradition doesn’t just happen and that is what we preach to our players. We have to work hard every year and pretty much all year to try to keep playing at a higher level.”
What’s a typical practice look like for the Bulldogs?
Well, I hate stagnation, so you will not see too many players standing around at any time during our practices. Defensively, we have several drill series that we do, where there are 3 to 5 baseballs and skills being worked on at the same time with baseballs being thrown all over the infield. If you play here, you have to be paying attention, or you might get hit upside the head. Outfielders are doing multiple drills as well at this time, but just not as dangerous with the throwing of the multiple baseballs. I am also a big believer in doing the things that we do in the games. So, I am a big repetition guy. Our practices are planned out to the minute and we follow the times. I don’t like getting caught up on something just because we might not run it properly a couple times. I don’t like to beat a dead horse so to say. We will move on and get our players away from what it was that they were not doing properly and we will come back to it the next day. Usually the next day will be significantly better. I don’t like to have our guys hitting on the field a lot, because that breeds stagnate players. Kids like to hit on the field, so we will incorporate what we call Two Man BP on the field where they are working on specifics while two guys are at the home plate area hitting at the same time. When we do this, guys can get a lot of reps in on the field in a short amount of time, but we do this with group rotations and other hitting and bunt stations going on at the same time. So, this helps eliminate guys standing around. I also try to work our conditioning into practices as well. Never did like just running players to run them to condition them. So, we work that into our drill work in practice each day.
Below I’m going to list adjectives, list the player on the 2023 roster who it describes:
Leader: Brent Smith
Gamer: Ethan Nobles
Hitterish: Alex Smith
Bulldog: Drew Kittinger
Selfless: Nic Lane
Competitor: Ethan Nobles
Also can you please name a few notable alumni:
Austin Warren 2104 Graduate of Terry Sanford- Los Angeles Angels (MLB debut July 29th 2021)
DJ Herz 2019 Graduate of Terry Sanford- Chicago Cubs MiLB (Tennessee Smokies AA Affiliate and 2021 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year)
Stay tuned for more excited Season Previews coming soon…