- November 25, 2020
The fields have been manicured, the jerseys handed out and the lineups set as the start of baseball season is finally here.
Local schools throughout west Orange County are ready once again to take to the diamond, as they look to make the 2020 season a special one.
The following is a quick look at all 10 schools in the Observer coverage area, along with insight from coaches.
Head coach: Larry Oldham
2019 Record: 1-20
Key players: Keenan Milroy, Brandon Nguyen, Eric Rodriguez
Season preview: “I’m excited, because the team just has so many good people on it, and there’s just a special bond with this team,” head coach Larry Oldham said. “I’ve been head coaching for 11 years, but now when you don’t have as good a team, it’s more like a ministry, it’s more like I want to teach them about the game and about life. We only have 11 on the team, so these kids have to interchange positions quite a bit, and I just love their attitude.”
Head coach: Ray Evans
2019 Record: 20-7
Key players: Brandon Fields, Noah Sullivan, Derek Lopez
Season preview: “As of right now, we are starting with a team full of Band-Aids,” head coach Ray Evans said. “We have a lot of guys who are not starting the season who are injured or not able to play, so I’m starting a lot of young guys. We’re coaching them every single day — it’s not like you can take a breather and the guys can kind of run the show themselves.”
Head coach: Chase Newman
2019 Record: 12-11
Key players: Braden Holcomb, Dylan Rose
Season preview: “It was six seniors who graduated, so we are definitely a bit of a team in transition — very young,” head coach Chase Newman said. “I’m looking forward to it, and I’m excited, and hopefully this year is a good year to establish the program and we can gain that interest. The community is growing around the school, and hopefully we can tap into that growing community and show that we are building the program the right way.”
Head coach: Jack Chambless
2019 Record: 11-16
Key players: Justin LaGasse, Jacob Worley, Brandon Correia
Season preview: “This is — by far — the deepest and best roster we have ever had at Legacy,” head coach Jack Chambless said. “We have 17 players, and in any other year, the most we have had is 13. Our starting nine, I would put them up against any other Class 2A team in the state, and we also have a deep bench this year. Our pitching is going to be very deep, our team speed is terrific — I fully expect our team to make it to regionals and to challenge for a spot in the state playoffs this year.” —
Head coach: Chad Hall
2019 Record: 15-12
Key players: Charles Kwarteng
Season preview: Last season was a big one for the Ocoee High baseball team. The Knights won the program’s first district title in a 7-6 walk-off win against Lake Minneola. This season, the Knights will be without several members of last year’s team, as eight seniors — including go-to player Hylan Hall — graduated. Luckily for Ocoee, the Knights have talent coming back, which includes Charles Kwarteng — who leads an offense that helped the Knights outscore opponents 146-109 during the season.
Head coach: Chuck Schall
2019 Record: 23-6
Key players: Alex Britton, Titan Kamaka, Mitch Harding
Season preview: “I think a lot of our success is going to hinge on our inexperienced pitching staff — we have some pretty good arms that are developing, but not a lot of experience there. We also have a couple of positions ... but I think our biggest key is how our pitching is going to develop throughout the year. It’s hard for me to have expectations, because it’s just hard to predict how we are going to pan out as a team.”
— head coach Chuck Schall
Head coach: Scott Grove
2019 Record: 20-9
Key players: Riley Parker, Greg Pettay, Brett Kelly
Season preview: Last season, The First Academy won 20 games and claimed the Class 4A, District 3 title over Trinity Prep. The Royals have the talent to once again win 20 games. The lineup features UNC-Greensboro commit Brett Kelly — a senior centerfielder — who will help lead a Royals’ team that last year powered by opponents on the mound and at the plate.
Head coach: Jay Welsh
2019 Record: 13-11
Key players: Anthony Garcia, Ricky Reeth
Season preview: “We have a solid team,” head coach Jay Welsh said. “We’re very deep in all areas, but I keep reminding our players that baseball is not like football and basketball where you can show up and have the best team and sometimes impose your will. We have to execute, and we have to play as a team. If we can do those two things, I think we can compete with anybody.”
Head coach: Eric Lassiter
2019 Record: 24-5
Key players: Carson Montgomery, Tyler Ostendorf, Jason Grant
Season preview: “I think our offense is really going to be the best it has been since we’ve been a school — we have 10 or 11 guys that I feel like, if you plug in there, we have a chance to really score some runs,” head coach Eric Lassiter said. “I’m a big pitching and defense guy, and just traditionally since we have been at Windermere we haven’t had what you would call a juggernaut offense, so it is exciting on that point to where you never feel like you’re out of a game.”
Head coach: Keith Walsh
2019 Record: 11-10
Key players: Pablo Delgado, Austin Tanner
Season preview: “I always ask them to be good teammates, work hard and be coachable — those are the three things (I want) whenever we step onto the field,” head coach Keith Walsh said. “The group of kids that I have are incredible. They get along, they feed off each other, they’ve had energy through the first couple of games and they’re picking each other up — it’s been the kind of energy and excitement that you look forward to every day when you go out there.” — head coach Keith Walsh.