Young Chargers are ambitious

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Central High School’s varsity baseball team is anticipating changes this year after nine players graduated from the 2018 squad that put Central in the regional championship game for the first time since 1994, but the Chargers are certainly not planning on a down year in 2019.

“We have four returning players from last year’s team in Ben Anthony, Austin Hall, Matthew Warren and senior Jackson Dalton,” Central Head Coach Michael Atkins said. “The (junior varsity) team has seven freshmen and an eighth-grader along with three 10th-graders, so they have a young program to develop over the next three to four seasons.”

Atkins’ expectations for the 2019 Chargers are not so different from the ones he had for last season’s team, though.

“I like the personnel we have on this year’s squad, the potential they have, and expect them to compete hard in the (James River District),” he said. “Although we are young and are finding the right combination, particularly defensively, it is certainly a goal for us to make it back to regional tournament play this season.”

The coach said that the four returners and Dalton Ashworth, Noah Phillips and Grant Foley will be relied on to handle the bulk of the pitching load this season in the absence of graduated stars like Ethan Hoover and Christian Hall.

“We will likely use multiple pitchers throughout a game,” Atkins said.

As for the Chargers’ offense, “It is certainly too early to tell where the strength in the lineup will be on a consistent level,” the coach said. “It is my expectation that we will be solid throughout. I certainly expect our returners to be productive offensively, as well as Noah Phillips, Dalton Ashworth, Justin Elliott and Mason Elliott.”

Atkins expects Phillips, a junior transfer, to make a big contribution behind the plate, from the mound and on offense.

After Tuesday’s season opener, Central hosts Buckingham County High School on Thursday at 5 p.m.