Chargers looking for more in ‘17

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Central High School varsity baseball team is off to a 1-1 start to the 2017 season, looking to build on a 2016 season in which it achieved some impressive things and showed potential to do even more.

The 2016 Chargers secured the No. 1 seed in the Conference 42 tournament, falling in the championship game to No. 2 Mathews High School. Then, Central fell in the Region 1A East tournament quarterfinals to host Windsor High School, the eventual state runner-up.

“We were certainly disappointed because we had our sights on advancing further,” Chargers Head Coach Michael Atkins said. “That loss is certainly going to be motivation for us going into this season.”

Central presses on this season without the services of Josh Paynter, who graduated last year. He was a two-year second team all-state center fielder.

“His leadership and play will be missed,” Atkins said. “We have other outfielders who we feel will be able to fill the void left by Paynter.”

This year, the Chargers are made up entirely of upperclassmen — 10 juniors and four seniors.

The seniors include outfielder Dashawn Moore, Malik Foster, Christopher Fowler and Chandler Childress.

Some key returners include junior outfielder/catcher/pitcher Jeffrey Goodwin Jr., junior infielder/outfielder/pitcher Nate Nowlin, junior infielder/pitcher Christian Hall, junior infielder/pitcher Ethan Hoover and junior infielder/outfielder L.J. Watson.

“It is not just my expectation but more importantly the expectation of this team to build upon last season’s accomplishments,” Atkins said. “This team has the ability to achieve really good things this year. As long as they continue to challenge themselves to improve each week, there is no reason this team can’t be in position to compete in postseason play. We certainly have team goals we are focused on obtaining.”

The Chargers opened the 2017 season with an 8-2 victory over host Prince Edward County High School on Thursday.

On Friday, Central fell 3-0 to visiting Randolph-Henry High School.

Atkins noted that, as always, he is working to instill in his players that “the little things we do matter, to be mentally disciplined, that our preparation is key and not permit external influences, distractions or personal desires (to) interfere with the team’s goals.”

Central hosted Buckingham County High School on Tuesday and visits Golubic Stadium in Crewe to face Nottoway High School on Thursday at 4 p.m.