Hopewell's first-year baseball coach Chet Greeson has been more than impressed with last year's MECA-7 conference champions since taking over the team last summer.
"We're deep at every position," he said. "It's just a matter of how hard they want to work and how good they want to be."
In order to make sure his Titans have a good chance to win a third straight conference championship, this time in the newly formed I-Meck conference, Greeson has made some changes.
"I've been implementing a program that's a little different than they're used to, so it's been a little bit of the process as far as that goes," he said. "They're starting to buy into what we're doing and adapting."
Senior pitcher Hunter May said he's enjoyed getting to know Greeson and has embraced the changes.
"He's probably the best coach that we've had," May said. "We've all been good with the change - we love it."
Like May, senior Daniel Whitecavage expects the change of pace to help the team improve.
"I think if we all get our head on straight and go through the program that coach Greeson has given us that we'll go far this year," the catcher said.
Greeson, who spent his last nine seasons at East Meck, said the biggest change he's been instilling on the Titans is discipline. That includes everything from an increased emphasis on paying attention to detail to asking for more intensity in practice.
"I want to help them understand how discipline plays into the success of an entire season," he said.
Outfielder Justin Hammond said he's noticed that increased work ethic.
"Our practices are a lot more intense, much more focused," he said, explaining that it could help the team win the conference and going far into the state playoffs.
The Titans are positioned to do well in the I-Meck's inaugural baseball season after only losing three seniors from last season.
Greeson said he expects a lot of competition from North Mecklenburg and Mallard Creek squads as well as from last year's 3A state champions, Lake Norman, and 3A's fourth-place finishers Mooresville.
"I'm not going to predict any championships or anything," Greeson said. "The conference is stronger so it'll be tougher to repeat as conference champions, but I like our chances."
The team, led by Hammond and May as well as junior Hunter Conley, is 2-1 this season.
"I think we're one of the most competitive teams in the state," May said.
May, who led the Titans with seven wins last year, added that the number of good pitchers on the team could prove to be a difference-maker.
"We have a lot of strength on the mound," said the Titans' No. 1 pitcher. "As long as we make plays on the field we should be hard to beat."
Greeson also has been impressed by the abundance of "legitimate pitchers" on his team.
"If you're an average to above average baseball team and you have two or three good pitchers you're fortunate and right now we've got six or seven that I wouldn't hesitate to put on the mound at any time," Greeson said.
The challenge will be finding enough innings to pitch them all. Greeson said they're considering a four-man starting rotation, which is deep when only playing two games a week.
The Titans' depth is being tested with the loss of junior shortstop Michael Russell for the rest of the year.
Russell broke both bones in his right leg during the first game of the season when a West Meck runner dove into his shin while trying to get back on second base.
"He's going to be missed," Greeson said. "But he'll be back strong."