Charlotte Observer correspondent Jay Edwards continues his Charlotte Observer-area high school baseball previews with a look at Mecklenburg County public schools
Teams to Watch
Charlotte Christian: The Knights are loaded with talent once again as Coach Greg Simmons returns six starters from a team that went 30-5 and finished as NCISAA 3A state runner-up. Charlotte Christian seniors Jonah Beamon (South Carolina signee), Jonathan Jagielski, Reid Mayers and company want to go out on top, adding their chapter to Knights’ lore (13 state championships).
SouthLake Christian: Coach Mike Causey returns a veteran club, led by seniors Josh Haney (UNC Charlotte signee) and Jason Hudak who have the talent to be a contender to win the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) and be a serious NCISAA 3A state contender (state quarterfinalist last year).
Charlotte Country Day: The Bucs also have the combination of experience and talent to be a factor in the CISAA conference and into the playoffs (NCISAA 3A) with seven starters back in the lineup. Charlotte Country Day will need seniors John Hosmer (Davidson College signee), Broadhus Roberson (UNC Wilmington signee) and William Hamil to be at their best if they are going to contend for championships (conference/state).
Providence Day: The Chargers return six starters to a team that won 19 games and advanced to the NCISAA 3A state semifinals a year ago. This year, Dartmouth signees Bryce Daniel and Justin Murray are back to try and help Providence Day get one game further and have a chance to play for a state title.
Players to Watch
Jonah Beamon, Charlotte Christian, Sr.: Knights’ senior shortstop and South Carolina signee also powers lineup, hitting .333 with eight doubles He scored 23 runs last year.
Jonathan Jagielski, Charlotte Christian, Sr.: Knights’ ace on the mound (7-0, 1.68 ERA last year) is also a standout at the plate with .403 batting average.
John Hosmer, Charlotte Country Day, Sr.: Davidson College signee is a versatile performer as a catcher, starting pitcher and closer. He’s also dangerous as a batter (.400/12 doubles/27 RBI last year) on a senior-laden squad that wants to go out with a bang.
Josh Haney and Jason Hudak, SouthLake Christian, Srs: Haney and Hudak excel both on the mound and at the plate for the Eagles. Both Haney (.486, three home runs, 0.81 ERA, UNC Charlotte signee) and Hudak (.418, throws 92 miles per hour, UNC Wilmington signee) will be major factors in SouthLake Christian’s success.
Bryce Daniel/Justin Murray, Providence Day, Sr. (both): Dartmouth signees lead a Charger squad hungry to make another deep playoff run (state semis last year) and will need Daniel (.359, seven doubles) and Murray (.363, 6-1/2.44 ERA) to be at their best if they going to be CISAA and state contenders.
Jackson Bertelsen, Covenant Day, Jr.: West Point (Army) commit looks to help keep Lions in games with his big arm (4-2, 2.97 ERA), while senior teammate Caleb Embry will big at the plate (.350, Lenoir Rhyne commit).
Britt Fuller, Charlotte Latin, Jr.: Duke University commit is a lefty that can hit for power and average (.339/five triples last year) and will also be a key player on the mound for Hawks.
Christian Little, Hickory Grove, Jr.: Three-sport star (baseball/basketball/football) will be a big arm (86-88 mph) and big bat for the Lions.
Can’t Miss Games
Charlotte Christian vs. South Mecklenburg (in Battle of the Hill Preseason Tournament) at Independence, March 1: The season-opener for Charlotte Christian will allow them to see just how good they are from the start against 4A public power, South Mecklenburg.
Northwestern (SC) at Charlotte Christian, March 6: The Knights host the defending S.C. AAAAA champions in week two of the season in another early test.
Jack Sink Tournament at East Mecklenburg and Myers Park, April 2-4: The CISAA conference (Charlotte-area) private school teams always relish the opportunity to play their public school counterparts in this historic Spring Break tournament.
Metrolina Christian at SouthLake Christian, April 24: The Eagles host their MAC rival in the final week of the regular season in a game that could determine the conference champion and have a major impact on both team’s playoff seed.
Charlotte Christian at Providence Day, May 1; Providence Day at Charlotte Christian: The Sardis Road rivalry could decide the CISAA conference championship and have major playoff implications, not to mention neighborhood bragging rights.
- Charlotte Christian coach, Greg Simmons, has led the Knights to 624 wins in 25 years, including 13 state championships, 18 CISAA conference titles. Simmons’ lead assistant, Mike Rozsak, has been by his side for 21 years, 500-plus wins, all 13 state titles and 17 conference championships.
- Northside Christian is 41-11 in the last two seasons, including back-to-back appearances in the NCISAA 2A state championship (2016 champions, 2017 runner-up). But after losing head coach Brian Larsen and 10 of their 14 players, including all nine starters, 2018 will be a rebuilding year.
- First-year, Carmel Christian coach Chris Manriquez comes from Union Academy, where he went 20-6 last season, won the Uwharrie Athletic conference and got to the 3rd round of the state playoffs, all firsts in school history. Now, Manriquez will look to have the same kind of spark for the Cougars’ baseball program.
- Victory Christian coach, Thomas Eaton, led the Kings to a 40-40 mark from 2001-2005. After 13 years, Eaton is back to help rebuild a Victory Christian program that has struggled to win games at all in recent years.
- 2nd-year United Faith coach, Jon Capen, hopes to have a "solid" team this season with four starters back, led by junior, Mark Park, and sophomore Connor Helms.
- Charlotte Christian; 2. Charlotte Country Day; 3. Providence Day; 4. Covenant Day; 5. Cannon School; 6. Charlotte Latin.
Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)
- SouthLake Christian; 2. Westminster Catawba; 3. Metrolina Christian; 4. Northside Christian; 5. Gaston Christian; 6. Gaston Day; 7. Hickory Grove; 8. Concord First Assembly.
Southern Piedmont Athletic Association (NCISAA)
1. Statesville Christian; 2. Carmel Christian; 3. Hickory Christian; 4. Christ the King; 5. Victory Christian; 6. North Hills Christian; 7. United Faith.