Prep Baseball: West Rowan hopes to build off first win
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — Steven Wetmore wants to win more and proved it on Friday when he was the winning pitcher in a 21-6 victory at Statesville.
It was the first win for West after nine losses but coach Chad Parker hopes it becomes contagious.
“We’ve put a lot of good things together and we’re improving,” Parker said. “We just have to put seven straight innings all together and get back to winning ballgames.”
It has been an unusual beginning for the Falcons. David Wright resigned early in the season and Parker took over.
Parker, who coached at Statesville for years, started at West in August after being a head coach for 12 years.
“I came over to be an assistant,” he said. “That was the mindset coming in. This was the first time I had been an assistant. I was enjoying my role.”
Then Wright made his decision.
“Coach Wright put a lot of tough thought into that decision,” Parker said. “He asked me if he ultimately went that way, would I be willing to take over. I told him, ‘Sure.’
“There was always a part of me wanting to be the guy making out the lineup and being the guy running the offense.”
Offensively, Parker looks to Chandler Jones, who banged out three doubles against Statesville. He’s going to be in the 3 or 4 spot in the order.
Other teams know of Jones. He walked 12 times in the first five games.
“He’s not somebody we can hide,” Parker said. “He’s our main power threat. And he’s solid defensively.”
Chandler, who hit .342 last year, is joined in the infield by sophomore Hunter Teeter at second, junior Bryce Burns, who comes up from the jayvees, at shortstop, and Justin Osborne and Louis Kraft at first.
“Teeter’s a hard-working kid,” Parker said. “He’s shuffled around the lineup but he’s better at the top of the order.
“Burns still has work to do but he’s getting better every day. He makes all the throws.”
Parker said whoever stays hot with the bat will play first. Kraft was late coming out due to basketball.
Pitching-wise, Matt Miller leads the staff . He was 5-1 last season
“He’s our go-to guy,” Parker said of the junior right-hander.
Sophomore lefty Justin Evans has earned playing time.
“He has a chance to develop into the second starter,” Parker said.
Seniors include Wettmore, Ethan Wansley, Madison Osborne and Hampton. Chase Laing is a junior.
“We have a chance to have a solid staff,” Parker said. “The kids compete.”
The staff will be looking to catchers Steven Crandall, a senior, and freshman Michael Pinkston.
“Crandall’s a great worker,” Parker said.
The outfield is led by senior Patrick Hampton in right and sophomore Taylor Garczynski in center.
Hampton hit a homer on Friday night. He had two last season, batting .246.
Garczynski has speed. He stole 12 bases last season to go with a .306 average.
“He runs well,” Parker said. “He has a chance to hit well and put up some numbers.”
Left field will be by committee, according to Parker. He pointed to Miller and Wansley when they’re not pitching. Davon Quarles is also an outfielder. Wettmore could see action in right when he’s not on the mound.
West struggled with close games early. It was leading in three of its first five.
“It’s frustrating,” Parker said. “We’ve got to eliminate that one big inning.”
Hopefully, Wettmore’s win on Friday will be a turning point.
“The best part is, it’s nice to see us making progress,” Parker said. We’re getting better on the mound.”
NOTE: West has a busy week. It plays defending state champ East Rowan on Tuesday, faces Salisbury on Wednesday and travels to St. Stephens on Friday.