CPL: HiToms aim for better results this summer
The Thomasville HiToms haven’t had the results the last several years that they expect. They’re looking to change that this season.
After missing the playoffs two of the last three years, Thomasville will have a mix of familiar faces in a couple key roles and many new ones as well, as it opens the 2013 Coastal Plain League season.
Most notably, former player Zach Brown returns to Finch Field as manager. Brown, a CPL All-Star in 2005 and 2006, will also have former HiToms teammates Shelton Cisson and Wilson Boyd as assistants this season.
Additionally, three American Legion Post 87 players — Kyle Brandenburg, who played at Ragsdale; Victor Zecca, who played at Ledford; and Bennett Hixson, who played at Wesleyan Christian — return to their former home field.
“To win in the summer, you have to inspire your young men to have a vested interest in what you’re doing,” said Greg Suire, the HiToms president. “You want them to perceive you as an important role in their development.
“The only way to do that, I think, is to surround them with people who share those same feelings. That’s one reason why I’m very excited about our coaching staff because I know they share those feelings.”
Brandenburg (High Point University) and catcher Max Gagnon (UNC Pembroke) are the lone two returnees from last year’s team that went 24-30, didn’t get above .500 the entire season and missed the playoffs.
For a team that won three straight CPL championships in 2006-08, that was a big letdown. There is optimism, however, that this year’s team will produce results that the HiToms are used to.
“I think we’re already getting pretty close,” said Brandenburg, a CPL All-Star last year and a rising senior. “We’ve got some guys who can hit a little bit, put some balls out. We’ve got a solid team, from the way it looks. …
“I really just want to play hard,” he said of his own expectations. “I want to do better than my first year here. But, yeah, just play hard and just have fun — and, of course, win too.”
As is the case every year, the start of the summer season overlaps with the college postseason. So, while many of the HiToms’ regulars will be on hand, seven players from schools in the NCAA regionals will be delayed.
In the meantime, however, players including Hassan Evans and Cameron Cecil (Delaware State), Sam Foy (Davidson) Andrew Cox (Clemson), Weston Jackson (Presbyterian), Dakota Spiess (Western Carolina), Hunter Rice (College of Charleston) are looking to lead Thomasville to a good start.
“I think every player we have is quality,” said Brown, who emphasized the importance of playing well in the summer. “As long as you can play hard and play the right way, then we’ll be fine. I don’t have any complaints so far.”