Finishing last season with a 14-10 record, the Panthers are looking to improve on that record and accomplish their goals of getting a “region championship and advancing through the state tournament” according to head coach Mickey Harper.
For this season, the team has nine returning starters — six seniors, two juniors and a sophomore.
The seniors are outfielder Eric Loyd, infielder Ryan Moffett, first baseman Jason Phillips, outfielder Brett Roberts, catcher Mason Tritt and shortstop Brandon Whiteford. The juniors are outfielder Michael Rookard and pitcher Brandon Sattenfield, and Tristen Leggett is the sophomore.
With so many returning starters and seniors, Harper said the strengths of his team are unity and fundamentals.
“We should be a very solid and balanced team,” said Harper.
While the team is “solid,” Harper said there is still a weakness is regards to depth at the pitching position.
“We need to quickly find out who will step up and perform in clutch situations,” Harper said.
Regardless of this weakness, Harper said his team is confident and ready to get the season started.
“We are an experienced team and we should be confident moving into this season,” said Harper.
Harper is also the head softball coach at Chapel Hill and notes that there are some significant differences between the two teams. Staying neutral, Harper began by saying “the mindset and intensity between my girls and guys are very similar,” but he soon dove into the differences.
“My girls are probably a bit more coachable at times but may bring a little more personal emotions to the field. My guys are a bit more ‘confident’ in their ability which at times has to be reined in,” Harper said.
Whether it is emotions or overconfidence, Harper said he couldn’t ask for a better group of players on either team.
“Both groups play hard and work together for the best of our overall team. I have great kids and parents in both sets and would not trade them for any body else,” said Harper.