As of press time, high school springs sports events and practices had been postponed until April 10. That announcement came as the finishing touches were being put on the Spring Sports preview. We have decided publish these previews in order to highlight Hardy County’s high school athletes, should no opportunity exist later.
The roster looks small, but one shouldn’t underestimate the heart of the Cougars this season as East Hardy Baseball looks to claw to success once the coronavirus pandemic subsides and the green light to play ball happens.
East Hardy skipper Eric Heflin is in his fourth season at the helm along with assistant coach Noah Orndorff leading the charge over 17 players.
East Hardy looks to work together to improve on last season’s record of 7-18.
“Our overall goal is to win as many games as possible. We’re working every day to try to make that happen. Another goal we have as a coaching staff is to make sure that every player improves their ability by the end of the season,” East Hardy coach Eric Heflin remarked.
The Cougars will miss All-Potomac Valley Conference junior utility player Andrew Tharp’s batting average of .462 as he is now competing as a track member and All-PVC second baseman Logan Whetzel graduated with a batting average of .380.
East Hardy will look to the guidance of five seniors: Seth Smith (SS/P), Adam Baker (1B/P), Noah Miller (INF/P), Hinton Shifflett (INF/OF) and Colten Spaid (INF/OF).
Smith is quick on his feet which was proven playing basketball and has shown great effort moving the ball along the diamond and has been patient at the plate.
Baker has been a great first baseman and has a solid delivery from the mound, but the plate appearances have been where he crushes the ball over the fence including the “Black Monster”.
Noah Miller has been fielding the ball well at third base and in the outfield in addition to good power hitting to move the runners.
Shifflett is versatile being in any spot in the infield or outfield executing plays with precision, now working on consistent hits to keep the momentum going.
Spaid has been a good contributor encouraging his teammates and will surprise opponents with his speed and accuracy.
East Hardy junior catcher and pitcher Alex Miller has been a strong force behind the plate, knows when to execute the plays and has a solid pitching arsenal when needed and packs a punch swinging the bat.
East Hardy junior Riley Mongold has grown up in a baseball family and has the skill to play infield, outfield and as a pitcher becoming a crucial utility man and has been knocking doubles in practice.
East Hardy juniors Andrew Lazo and Connor White will be playing ion the outfield this season and have been working on their throwing finesse.
East Hardy sophomore infielders Andrew Hahn and Kollin Quarles have been making tremendous plays and have the patience to connect at the plate at the right moments.
Hahn is flexible as his skill can be used in the outfield with the speed to chase down the ball and sling it back.
Sophomores Gabriel Henderson (INF/OF) and Hunter Funkhouser (OF) have shown good speed in their positions roaming the outfield and should be dangerous on the base path for the Cougars.
East Hardy sophomore infielder Jacob Whetzel comes from a baseball family where older brother Austin plays at Salem University and has been following in those footsteps making big hits and fielding the ball with precision.
The freshmen for the Cougars are Dawson Price (INF/OF), Brennan Miller (OF) and Austin Wilkins (OF).
Miller and Wilkins have been showing good promise moving in the outfield.
Price has been dynamic playing at shortstop during practice and has been showing great speed in the outfield in addition to making timely hits.
East Hardy has a wealth of talent that is being cultivated for success this season.
If the pandemic ends on