It is about that time of year again when you start to hear the pop of the ball hitting the glove, and the ping of the aluminum bat followed by the cheers for a long-driven home run ball. As you maybe could guess, it is time for the high school baseball season to get under way here in West Point.
That was not what I found on a windy Monday afternoon on the back side of the Oak Hill Academy campus. What I did find was Oak Hillâ€™s baseball head coach Marion Bratton working on a rotted bench, getting it ready for the upcoming baseball season. With a drenched outfield and more rain expected this week, Coach Bratton feels the depression that only rainy weather can bring and the anxiety of getting a season off the ground.
Itching to get on the diamond the Raiders will return seven starters from last yearâ€™s playoff team which finished second in the AA North State tournament. Battling the elements and lacking the majority of his roster due to Oak Hillâ€™s deep run into the basketball postseason, Coach Bratton has had very little time to put together much of a preseason. Like reading the cliff notes for a book, the Raiders will have an excellerated preparation for the upcoming season.
Besides the adversity prior to the first pitch, the Diamond Raiders are an experienced ball club with a deep pitching staff. An exclusively right-handed staff, Oak Hill will seek good outings on the mound throughout the season from Adam Tumey, Trevor â€śSandlotâ€ť Turner, Drew Riley, Riley Pierce, and Brandon Westover.
â€śWe should do well pitching as long as we keep balls low in the zone, hit our spots, and all while making plays behind the mound,â€ť said Coach Bratton about the Oak Hillâ€™s pitching staff, going on to say, â€śthese guys are multiple pitch type guys and have some needed experience.â€ť
Playing in district 2-AA, the Raiders will be in a dead heat race to make the playoffs. Oak Hill will take on Canton Academy, Immanuel Christian, Leake Academy, Manchester Academy, and Winston, in ten games throughout the season. Bratton sees everybody with a chance to make the playoffs including last yearâ€™s district champion Manchester, a team the Raiders split with last year. Oak Hill and the coaching staff understands the expectation to make the playoffs.
â€śWe are used to going to the playoffs,â€ť said Coach Bratton about the seasonâ€™s expectations, â€śWell itâ€™s expected we make the playoffs.â€ť
The Raiders and Coach Bratton will hope that the fields will dry out soon and give them a chance to get to playing. Oak Hill has a game scheduled for this Tuesday against Heritage Academy in Columbus. The first pitch for varsity action will start at 4:30 p.m.