They still might be. But it was that inherent pressure that led to blown leads and missed opportunities through the first several games of the season. Now Hylton (8-6, 5-1 in the Cardinal District) has won six straight.
“Honestly, I think the kids were feeling the weight of the world early in the year,” Coach Craig Flesher said. “They spent all offseason with everybody telling them they’ve got everybody coming back, blah, blah, blah. They felt they had to go out there and match last year.
“We finally had a conversation where I told the kids to stop worrying about the record, just go out and play inning by inning. Slowly, we began to play better. In Florida [for spring break] we were able to get away from the whispers in the hallway. We went 2-2, but we played good teams and were able to work on our approach.”
The Bulldogs, out-hitting opponents .322 to .187 this season, have not lost since, and Flesher thought his team’s 10-0 six-inning win over Potomac (Va.) on Tuesday, a nine-strikeout one-hitter for Scrubb, might have been their most complete game yet.
Hylton boasts several college players, including Bettinger, Scrubb (High Point), Joe King (Youngstown State), twins Jeovan Sneed and Justin Sneed (Eastern Mennonite) and junior shortstop Austin Magestro (UNC Wilmington).
Others are likely to be snapped up soon. Junior outfielder Trey Bridis is hitting over .400. Junior catcher Will Frazier leads the team in homers (three) and RBI (15) and is batting .380. Junior outfielder Brady Zinda is hitting .440 and has double-digit steals. He visited Radford recently. Youngstown State is interested in Bridis. Frazier is considering junior college.
North Point gets it together
At 9-1, North Point is on track to improve its win total for the fourth straight season. But there is one trend from that same span that Eagles Coach Bill Chichester would like to leave behind: a loss in the Maryland 4A East region semifinals.
“Each year, we’ve got a little better, a little better, but we haven’t won anything yet,” Chichester said. “We’re usually pretty successful and usually pretty close, so hopefully this year can bring some more playoff wins.”
The pieces appear to be in place this spring for a postseason run. Led by the pitching of junior Kevin Hodgson as well as a consistent offense, the Eagles have scored at least five runs in every game this season.
Along with serving as North Point’s ace, displaying a solid fastball and change-up to keep opposing hitters at bay, Hodgson has stepped up at the plate in his first season as a full-time batter. In an April 30 win against Southern Maryland Athletic Conference rival Chopticon, the lefty totaled a career-high four RBI.