After two games in the 2012 Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League, Orange High baseball fans could have drawn an obvious conclusion about the Panthers.
Theyre going to be just fine.
Its natural to worry about a playoff team, like Orange, losing talent after graduation. But the Panthers showed theyve got plenty left with their upcoming players by bashing Chapel Hill twice last week in the CCSSL openers for both teams.
And they did that without All-Carolina 3A Conference infielder Keon Holt, who graduated and is playing American Legion baseball this summer over at Durham Post 7.
Two rising seniors led the way at the plate Monday for Orange: Nick Debo went 2-for-2 with a triple and Aaron Jacobson went 2-for-2 with a double as the Panthers won 10-0 at home. Rising junior Colin Pope picked up the win on the mound.
Wednesday, sophomore newcomer Garrett Cloer had two hits, including a double, to help Orange win 12-2 at Chapel Hill. Junior Jordan Toney, younger brother of Oranges versatile All-Conference player Andrew Toney, pitched for the victory.
As nice as all the performances were, Cloers might have been the most important. The CCSSL was created in 2006 by high school coaches as a way to give younger players a chance to get ready for varsity play.
Its about development getting all the kids opportunities to play, giving them innings, and seeing what they can do to get ready for the next level, Chapel Hill varsity head coach Randy Trumbower said.
We make all-conference players here in this league, he said, citing Peter Owens, Lee Gilliam, Michael Elefante, Charlie Passannante, Andrew Romaine, Rourke Bauers and Chad Fisher as players who grew from regulars to varsity stars out of their CCSSL experience.
They get to do things that they wouldnt normally do in a high school season, Trumbower said. They get these huge opportunities, and they take advantage of them.
Coaches gain from the development, too. Both Trumbower and Orange head coach Dean Dease, one of the charter coaches of the ? league, will let assistants do most of the coaching as the season gets into full gear.
For the Tigers, JV coach Christian Tardieu, who played under David Miller on Chapel Hills 2004 and 2005 PAC-6 champions, will return as the CHHS Senior Team coach this summer. Hell get help from JV co-coach Thomas Rhodes and former Chapel Hill/UNC player Tarron Robinson.
This is about learning different coaching situations, and its about learning the players, Tardieu said.
We want to see the players improve, skill-wise, but we also want to see them grow together as a team. A lot of them come from different middle schools, so wed like them to get to know each other and develop some chemistry.
Orange will coach by committee much of this summer, letting several former players take turns helping out on the field, such as 2011 All-Carolina-6 infielder J.R. Ray, now playing for Brevard College, and two Panthers from Oranges 2008 state champions Bradon Reitano and Blaise Haubert. Reitano recently was named All-Conference for Mount Olive Colleges Carolinas Conference champions.
Dease, like Tardieu, thinks CCSSL coaching is about developing chemistry as much as skills.
Most CCSSL teams have a Senior Team for rising upperclassmen and a Junior Team for rising sophomores and freshmen, but Orange has some underclassmen on its Senior roster, like ninth-grader Brad Debo, brother of All-Conference infielder/outfielder Nick Debo.
Obviously wed like to see them improve in all their skills on the mound, defensively, offensively, Dease said. Hopefully, they will bond and gel some. Hopefully, that will build some togetherness, some camaraderie. Thats the biggest thing just having them all together.
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