Anticipation high for Trinity heading into 2014
by Chris Goltermann
There’s plenty of anticipation for Trinity Christian’s program heading into the 2014 baseball season, much of which centers around an on-campus home field — which got its first taste of game action in Friday’s intersquad scrimmage.
The other focuses on head coach Brian Chmielewski and a roster that enters this spring nearly intact from the previous year.
Whether that excitement can produce victories remains to be seen. But Chmielewski feels that a group of four seniors, seven juniors and six sophomores has the potential to be competitive if they can buy into his system that pitching and defense can be the keys to success.
“As far as our expectations, it’s hard to say, because I’ve never seen us play a game,” said Chmielewski, who brought on former 6-foot-7 Georgia Tech lefthanded pitcher Taylor Wood as an assistant specifically to work with Lion hurlers. “It all comes down to pitching and more or less throwing strikes. I think we’ll play defense and I think we’ll hit. I think the number out there is 72 percent of all walks end in a run in high school baseball. They like Taylor. They seem to listen to what he has to say.”
The season begins Tuesday with an immediate test at home against Stratford Academy, a state-quarterfinalist last spring.
“One of the things I hope we can do is learn how to win,” Chmielewski said. “What I’m really looking for is to see how this team competes.”
The Lions head coach feels he has three solid starting pitchers to open the year with led by Daniel Shoates, one of four seniors, and the team’s projected starting shortstop when not on the mound.
Chmielewski’s starting catcher, Cole Elrod, is also being counted on early for pitching help and having a backup behind the plate this year will help the Trinity coach with his ability to move players around in the lineup, which expects to be dominated by underclassmen.
Sophomore Grant Hurston, who joined the team late in the preseason after wrapping up the 2013-14 basketball campaign is also being looked at to help on the mound, but Chmielewski isn’t about to rush him onto the field.
“What I’m looking for early are those guys who can finish a game and get those last outs over the final two or three innings,” he said. “
A trio of juniors expects to start in the Trinity outfield along with a junior, two sophomores and a senior among infielders.
“We’ll be junior heavy and that class is where we’re centered on building the program from,” Chmielewski, who has seen a dramatic rise in numbers at the middle school level with 35 players, nine of which are eighth graders. “At the school there’s a level of anticipation for baseball now. I think we’re ready to take a step.”