The Eagles baseball team will have a new coach for the 2009 season, but don't expect much to change.
Troy Burgess takes the reins of the South Putnam baseball team this season after Harold Campbell unexpectedly stepped down as head coach before the practice officially began. Burgess said that he doesn't plan on changing things around.
"I'm sure there are things that are going to be different because, to be honest, I don't really know what they have done in the past," Burgess said. "But I have simple philosophy -- if it's not broken don't fix it. I mean, we're not trying to reinvent the wheel here."
Coaching baseball may be new to Burgess, but not coaching in general. Burgess is also the football coach for the Eagles and a P.E. teacher, and that is an advantage to him.
"Even though I haven't coached these boys in baseball before, they either have played football for me or I've had them in my advanced P.E. class," Burgess said. "So they pretty much know what I expect from them.
"It's tough to pinpoint exactly what I want from them when I haven't spent that much time coaching them in baseball, but obviously I want them to work hard and do their best," Burgess said.
Although this is his first time coaching the baseball team, the situation that Burgess is in couldn't be better as he is inheriting a team that is full of talent and possibilities.
"This is a great situation for me to step into," Burgess said, "It's not like I stepped into a team that didn't know what they were doing. All these guys know wow to play the game, and they play it well.
"I say this with great respect to the previous staff -- these guys have been coached very well," Burgess said.
Burgess has two seniors on the team this year in Noah Boswell and Josh Flory.
"Noah is a three-year starter for this team, and has been the heart and soul of this team," Burgess said.
Boswell led the Eagles last season from the mound, posting 100 strikeouts in 16 appearances. Also returning to the mound for the Eagles is Grant Zimmerman, who had an earned run average of 5.82 in 13 appearances. The Eagles have one more pitcher this year than last year in Josh Flory. Flory played for the Clovers last year, but moved to South Putnam in the beginning of the school year.
The mound isn't the only position the Eagles have talent returning.
Cameron Chestnut will be playing shortstop for the Eagles, and Burgess is happy with what he sees in Chestnut.
"That kid has a rocket for an arm," Burgess said.
Also returning in the infield will be John Spencer who will be playing second base for the Eagles, solidifying the team's middle.
"We're going to be pretty solid up the middle this year and in the outfield, we have Drew Cash and Zimmerman in the outfield," Burgess said. "With those two in the outfield, they can cover a lot of ground. So we have some good team speed out there."
The Eagles should be pretty solid on the field and they're not shabby at the plate either.
Chestnut led the team last year at the plate, batting a .457 and in doubles with 10 along and had three triples. He also scored 36 runs while batting in 28. Boswell batted a .392 and led the team in home runs and RBIs. He hit seven home runs while knocking in 32 runs.
The Eagles open the 2009 season on April 6 when they take on Cloverdale starting at 4:30 p.m.