Charlotte Christian baseball is a proud program and for good reason. The Knights have won 14 state championships, including 13 under coach Greg Simmons and four in a row from 2012 to 2015. However, Charlotte Christian struggled with a sense of entitlement last spring.
The Knights fell short of their championship expectations when they lost to Charlotte Country Day in the first round of the state playoffs last season. The players didn’t want to feel that disappointment, giving them motivation to work hard and improve during the offseason. Charlotte Christian is at a much better place than it was this time a year ago.
“Last year was definitely a disappointing year, because we didn’t play to the level that we could have,” senior catcher Drew Donathan said. “This year, we have more leadership. We’re close as a team.”
Charlotte Christian is off to a solid 3-1 start and should be a title contender. The Knights have what it takes to beat any team. Unfortunately for the Knights, they fell back into a rut of bad practices last week, which resulted in poor play and a 7-3 loss to Cardinal Gibbons on Saturday, March 4.
To make matters worse, Charlotte Christian lost Donathan, a Clemson commit, for at least six weeks.
He broke his nose when he was hit by a pitch against Metrolina Christian on Feb. 27. Donathan will have it surgically repaired Tuesday, March 14. He also sustained a hand injury against Cardinal Gibbons. He had an appointment scheduled with a hand specialist Thursday, March 9. Sophomore Matt Mayers is filling in for Donathan behind the plate.
Simmons doesn’t want his players to be timid. He wants them to bring energy and confidence to the diamond, because they have the talent to be successful.
“They have to believe in the process and not get fearful,” Simmons said. “It’s a game. Play the game.”
While Donathan’s absence leaves a glaring void, the Knights’ pool of quality players remains deep.
Senior Scottie Wallace is the team’s No. 1 pitcher, and he throws in the 87-89-mile per hour range. Sophomore James Killen throws up to 91 mph and is developing into a quality hurler. Senior Nick Suarez (Lenoir-Rhyne commit) gives Simmons a pitcher that can eat innings.
The infield has elite potential, starting with junior Jonah Beamon (South Carolina commit). Seniors Andrew Durden (Presbyterian College commit) and Nick Murrer bolster the infield. Senior Miles Gary, who is a team captain, gives the Knights significant experience at right field.
Pitching and defense will be Charlotte Christian’s greatest strengths. If the Knights can manufacture runs, then they will be a tough out in May.