The baseball program at Richmond Hill High School enters its first year in Class AAAAA minus some key contributors from last year’s 13-12 squad, including Armstrong Atlantic State University signees Nathan Ward and Ryan Esenwein.
“We lost a lot of experience from last year,” coach Stacy Bennett said. “We will be pretty young across the board.”
Despite the team’s lack of varsity experience, Bennett said his players work “hard in the weight room and have a good work ethic on the field.”
And the Wildcats aren’t exactly starting from scratch, either, not with the return of 6-foot-6 senior pitcher Bryan Strahan.
Strahan, who earned honorable mention honors in Region 2-AAAA, “has been a great leader for us on and off the field,” said Bennett, a former college and minor league player now in his third season at RHHS.
Strahan leads the team into its first season in Region 3-AAAAA against some familiar faces, from Effingham County and Jenkins to Glynn Academy, Bradwell Institute, Groves and fellow moveup Ware County.
The Gators, Warriors and Tigers all advanced to the state playoffs last season. Effingham County was once a state power and is improving and Glynn Academy also has a tradition of winning baseball.
“Our region is very competitive,” Bennett said. “We are going to take it one game at a time and see what happens.”
Once again, the Wildcats will play a tough non region schedule. Richmond Hill opened the regular season Monday night at Statesboro. The Wildcats also play in Brunswick’s annual Baseball at the Beach tournament this weekend with matchups against Kell, Pike County, then take on Brunswick and Oconee County next weekend in the same tournament.
Other tough nonregion opponents include South Effingham, Wayne County, Camden County and Benedictine.
“We are going to try and find the most competitive non region schedule for our team to play,” Bennett said. “We don’t care about a W-L record, but getting our guys better each and every day. That’s our No. 1 priority.”
See the roster and upcoming games in the Feb. 20 edition of the News.