First year coach Jamie Lowe will step to the plate this season and look to keep the Knights one of the top teams in Region X Conference baseball.
After beginning official practice January 10, Surry will take the field this Friday against Burlington County College in their first test of the season.
Lowe said he has every intention of continuing the tradition his predecessor, Tucker, helped to create.
“We feel like Surry has been good in the past, Mark did a great job and I am going to work hard enough and work this team hard enough, to continue what he’s done for 13 years,” Lowe said.
Overall, the Knights will be somewhat of a young team in 2009, with 16 of their 28 players in their first season of college baseball.
Despite that youth, Lowe thinks much of this season’s outcome will rest with the Knights pitching staff, a rotation which will utilize a quintet of sophomores.
“I think we’ve got a chance to be good if a lot of stuff goes well,” Lowe said. “Our pitching should be pretty strong. I think a lot of our success depends on how deep our pitching staff can go and how well our hitters hit.”
Right-hander Jordan Jessup, a 6-0 170 pound East Surry graduate, is scheduled to be Surry’s opening day starter. Lowe said, at the moment, Jessup is his top option.
“He’s probably going to be our number one this week,” Lowe said. “He has put in a lot of hard work over the offseason and has continuously improved and he’s just our best right now.”
Along with Jessup, Lowe said he expects sophomores Ian Haley (A.C. Reynolds), Josh McDaniel (East Burke), Cory Norman (Forbush) and Hamilton Bennett (Fort Mill) to round out his starting rotation.
“Those five are who we are going to have in starting roles, that may change, but those five guys will probably get the majority of the innings,” Lowe said. “I am proud of the pitching staff for their work during the offseason. That’s why I feel they are a plus and I think their hard work is going to show up.
Lowe also said sophomore Frankie McAteer (J.M. Robinson) has been working as a closer and should begin the season as the top finisher for the Knights.
At the plate, Surry will have a few veteran players to help carry the load offensively.
Lowe will look to sophomore shortstop Matt Adams (Scotland County) and sophomore second basemen Andre Nichols (Greenbrier) to be catalysts for the Knights this season at the top of the line up.
“Matt is a sophomore with experience and he led the team in hitting last year,” Lowe said. “We expect him to get on base a lot and set the table along with Andre Nichols.”
Behind Adams and Nichols, Lowe said Ian Haley will be expected to pull double duty and provide Surry with a big bat in the middle of the order, along with solid pitching.
“We expect to see big things out of his bat this year,” Lowe said. “He’s had a really good fall and we anticipate that to carry over to the spring.”
Those players will account for much of the Knights experience at the plate this season, and according to Lowe, another major factor in his team’s success in 2009 will be the hitting of a trio of freshman outfielders who will round out Surry’s order.
Lowe said Brad Bridgeman (Scotland County), Tommy Wright (Orange County) and Corbin Bregman (West Stokes) will need to produce along with their sophomore counter-parts for the Knights to win games.
“How well they adjust to good college pitching is going to be how good we are,” Lowe said. “If these guys hit we are going to be good.”
Lowe thinks Pitt Community College, Louisburg and Spartanburg-Methodist should be among the top teams in Region X this season, but the first-year coach said no team will be overlooked by the Knights in 2009.
“We are going to take every game serious,” he said. “We aren’t going to get up for one and lay down another.”
Friday’s game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Angus J. Tucker field in Dobson, with a weekend homestand with Cuyahoga Community College scheduled for the following week.
Contact Thomas Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1920.