HILLSBOROUGH — Spring break for high school baseball players in Orange county doesn’t mean time off – it means it’s time for the annual Hilltop Invitational Tournament.
The 2013 Hilltop will take place on the tail end of the CHCCS and Orange County Schools’ spring break on Thursday through Saturday at four area high schools.
The tournament, hosted by Orange High School, has a field of 16 teams separated into two brackets – the National Division and the American Division. Orange and East Chapel Hill will host American Division games and Chapel Hill and Cedar Ridge will host the National Division.
“Really and truthfully, it’s a situation where we get to bring in and play other teams from our area,” Chapel Hill coach Randy Trumbower said. “With coach Dease at Orange, coach Woodell at East and coach Lowe over at Cedar Ridge, we host teams and we get to bring other teams into the area and we kind of work together.
“It’s a pride thing to win it, and we won it three years ago and that was really a springboard for our season.”
While the Panthers are off to a strong start this season, winning nine of their first 10 games, the Tigers and the Wildcats have been fighting to stay around the .500 mark.
Both Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill have young lineups that haven’t quite found their groove yet.
“We’re really young and part of that inconsistency is because we’re so young,” ECH coach Phil Woodell said. “The more games we’ve played the more experienced they get and hopefully the better they’ll be.”
Trumbower’s Tiger team is in a similar situation. While Woodell said that three-fourths of his infield are freshmen, Trumbower said that seven of his starters were underclassmen.
“I think our team is really a work in progress,” Trumbower said, “and I think as the year goes on we’re going to get better and better as the days go, so I’m actually kind of excited as we get more and more into the season.”
The Hilltop will give both teams a chance to work on their issues with consistency as they will be forced to play games on three consecutive days. And they’ll be matching up with some talented competition.
Orange has already beaten both the Tigers and the Wildcats this year and East Chapel Hill also fell to Durham Jordan – another team in the field.
While having local teams playing in the same tournament provides an opportunity for the local bragging rights to be on the line, both Trumbower and Woodell just want their teams to continue to improve.
And both coaches admitted that Orange was likely the team to beat in this year’s Hilltop.
“To me, our tournament is who can knock off Orange,” Woodell said, “as far as the local teams are. Because year-in and year-out, Orange and Durham Jordan are the two best clubs so they hold the bragging rights until further notice.”