It has become an annual event for Richmond Hill baseball. Carrabba’s dinner and meet the team are as recognizable to Wildcat baseball as hotdogs and sand gnats. Last Tuesday night at the Richmond Hill High School cafeteria the local restaurant prepared meals for take out and dine in while head coach Mitchell Curry introduced his 2007 team to a room full of parents, boosters and administrators.
Home Run Club president Doug Goolsby first addressed the attendees and thanked them for their support.
He explained that the dinner, sponsored by the Home Run Club, had been a record success and that the dinners are sold to help raise funds for team needs such as equipment.
Goolsby also extended an invitation for everyone to attend "Cats Nite Out," another Wildcat Baseball tradition.
Monday March 5, the Wildcats first home game of the 2007 season against Bryan County will be celebrated with a somber theme in mind.
Missing will be one of Richmond Hill baseball’s biggest supporters ever, Jim Bayens. Bayens’ passing last year will leave an empty spot behind the back stop where he was often found during games at Wildcat Field.
Former Wildcat baseball coach and Jim’s son, Mickey Bayens, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch and a special tribute will be made in his father’s honor.
Curry next introduced his Junior Varsity and Varsity teams and then the coaches.
There has been a new addition to the staff and that’s Zach Grage, who comes from a successful baseball and pitching career at Evansville University and will be the pitching coach for the Wildcats. Sean Strickland returns this year to assist, and junior varsity head coach Brian Brocato and his assistant and team statistician Chuck Blakewood will also be in the dugout.
Curry and his team have high hopes that this season will mark his team’s return to post season play with a goal of doing it as sub-region champions.
With a core of returning senior players in the bullpen and on the field he has good reason to be optimistic.
Afterward, Curry was as enthusiastic about his coaching staff as he was about his team.
"I have high hopes, we have potential and have a chance to make a run if we play the way we are capable of and stay healthy" said Curry of his teams outlook.
Most of those hopes are riding on the three right arms of seniors Scott Strickland, Matthew Schlag and Cameron Corbin.
All three have had extensive experience from the mound and Strickland is coming off a season in which he was one of the coastal empire’s top pitchers in ERA and strikeouts, and has signed a letter of intent to pitch for Augusta State University beginning next year.
Rounding out the seniors are: Dustin Mitchell, Josh Futch, Aaron Pittsley and Jake Dudley. The rest of the Wildcat varsity are: John Johnson, Steven Boaen, Jeff Yeager, Alex Tucker, Jeremy Goolsby, Logan Wolfe, Raul Rodriguez, Nathan Kilburn and Matt Graney.
Coach Curry also explained that because of GHSA rules they have had one week less of practice this season and there are still a couple of starting positions that need to be filled. The Wildcats hope to make significant improvements on their defense and hope to have some players step to the plate offensively as well.
Richmond Hill will play at Groves Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., then host Bryan County for Cats Nite Out on Monday, March 5; J.V. starts at 4 p.m. and Varsity at 6 p.m.
The Wildcats will host Brunswick High School on Thursday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m.