Photo by Derrick Mahone
ELCA senior catcher Cameron Ragsdale has been a solid fixture in the Chargers lineup.
McDONOUGH — When you return all eight of your position players from a team that won a region title and advanced to the state playoffs quarterfinal round, it seems pressure to equal or better that mark would come with the territory.
That’s not the case with this season’s Eagle’s Landing Christian squad.
The Chargers seem to relish the role of being a favorite for the Class A title.
“Everybody is expecting to win,” senior outfielder Jacob Heyward said. “We are a more mature team now. We have a lot of confidence. There is not any pressure. This is fun for us because we have been doing this for a while.”
Much of the Chargers motivation for this season stems from seeing the football team win its Georgia High School Association state title. Four members of that title team are members of the baseball team.
“We have really big expectations,” senior shortstop D.J. Curl said. “The seniors have to step up and provide some leadership. We really have a lot of good experience.”
Kevin Martin is the only missing piece from last season’s success. The former ace pitcher is now a freshman at Tennessee Tech. The Henry Daily Herald Pitcher of the Year finished last season with a 12-1 record with a 1.20 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched and had three postseason shutouts.
While his skills will be missed, senior Patrick Busscher seems poised to step into the top pitching spot. He honed his skills this summer with an elite travel team. Busscher, who also played wide receiver on the school’s Class A private school championshp team, recently committed to North Greenville University in South Carolina.
In all, ELCA has four players already signed to baseball scholarships.
Headlining the list is Heyward, who signed with powerhouse Miami in November. Last season, he hit .333 with six home runs and 30 RBIs.
The Chargers will face some strong competition in the region with Landmark Christian, Holy Innocents’ and Pace. Coach Doug Campbell pointed out that both Pace and Holy Innocents’ have strong pitching staffs.
“We want to make the school proud of us,” Heyward said. “Our goal is to go out there and win a state championship.”