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Expectations high for Comet baseball

South Boston News
Members of the HCHS varsity baseball team are, from left, first row, Eric Brandon, Will Scheier, Parker Franklin, Dawson Watts. Tyler Duffer. Second row, Josh Barker, Alex Lowery, Troy Ferrell, Carlton Redd, Hunter Watts, Drew Harlow. Third row, assistant coaches Shawn Torian and Robert Carter, Holt Powell, Tylik Powell, Clay Lloyd, Brayden Moore, coach Kenneth Day. Not pictured, Andrew Abbott, Matt Ratliff, Corey Brandon. / March 16, 2017
Expectations for Halifax County High School varsity baseball are very high, with the conversation pointing towards a deep playoff run, possibly even to the state 5A playoffs.

But head coach Kenneth Day fully understands the pitfalls that can undermine these dreams. Injuries or other circumstances could put road blocks in the Comets’ path, or regional opponents might just have a better day once the playoffs reach the one-and-done stage.

By now, almost everyone knows about senior Andrew Abbott, the highly regarded lefthander headed next season to Virginia.

But Halifax will need more than Abbott to get the job done.

Halifax is already sporting Team 206 practice gear, a reference to the mileage from Halifax to James W. Robinson High School in Fairfax. That’s the site of this year’s 5A State Final Four baseball tournament.

Day called this a motivational tool to get the Comets primed for a Final Four run.

Beyond that, Day said Tuesday, “We’ve got a lot of work to do.

“You don’t know if you’re going to run into a hot pitcher, or a really hot hitting team in the playoffs. You always want to be the last man standing,” said Day.

“If we didn’t want that, we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Day.

“We want to do well. The kids really want to do well. You’ve got to be lucky and you’ve got to be good at the same time.”

The baseline for a deep playoff run starts with Comet pitching, expected to be very strong overall, and Abbott in particular.

“Andrew is going to do really well for us this year. He really worked hard in the offseason, and he’s leading us by example right now,” said Day.

But Day is adamant about this point - “We can’t do it with one guy.”

Halifax will need a collective effort for deep playoff success.

Day said the push has to come from “every player on the roster to every coach in the baseball program to every person in that school, every person in the community.”

He believes everybody has to work together to reach the kind of result the Comets are chasing.

Abbott is hardly alone in terms of pitching prowess.

Halifax will use sophomore Troy Ferrell on the mound. Day said he has “come a long way.”

Alex Lowery is another sophomore hurler. Day expects Lowery to pitch well for the Comets, along with sophomore pitcher Drew Harlow. He did a lot of work as a closer last year and the same is expected this year.

Carlton Redd, a junior pitcher, has improved. Brayden Moore is a junior pitcher who has returned from injury and junior Will Scheier is also working effectively.

“We’ve got a good group of pitchers I think we can count on anytime and any place,” said Day.

Halifax also has a strong game day lineup.

Clay Lloyd will see duty at catcher. Day said the junior has a good arm and will drive in a lot of runs for the Comets.

The first base duties will be shared by Hunter Watts and Holt Powell, both seniors. Both are performing well and it’s a good competition between the two players, Day said.

“We’re going to definitely need both of their bats in the lineup, one way or another,” said Day.

Returning senior Tyler Duffer has the nod at second base. Day has high expectations for Duffer.

The shortstop position revolves around Tylik Powell and Dawson Watts. “There’s good competition between those two,” said Day.

Harlow, Lowery and Parker Franklin will see duty at third base. Day said that group includes two sophomores and a junior (Franklin). Playing time here for these three will partly depend on how the pitching assignments play out.

Halifax has versatile talent in the outfield.

Josh Barker has returned to play left. Scheier adds depth. In centerfield, Halifax has Moore and Eric Brandon. Both are back from injury issues.

Abbott will play in right field when he’s not pitching, and Corey Brandon also adds depth.

Matt Ratliff adds depth in the outfield.

Day is counting on everyone on the roster to contribute.

Day is also positive about the team’s hitting.

He doesn’t expect a power surge of five homers per game, but the Comets have good players who can make contact and drive home runs.

Day also expressed optimism about the defense, noting that Halifax still has areas for improvement.

Day is also pleased with the offseason regimen.

“The kids really worked hard in the offseason, for the most part,” he said.

Halifax had a good offseason weight room effort.

Day is really focused on having this group do well and then progress in all areas once they leave high school.

Halifax is now slated to start the season Friday, with Bassett coming to town.

Day is working with assistants Shawn Torian and Robert Carter.

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