HOLLY SPRINGS — Fuquay-Varinas Jordan Bissette didnt understand why his baseball team was preseason No. 1 in the state (by Impact Baseball) and No. 14 nationally (by Perfect Game USA) at least not at first.
I think something they dont realize is our entire outfielder is gone (from last year), our catcher left, our second baseman left. We have 3-4 guys that really played last year that are returning, Bissette said. Its really hard to say a team is going to be 14th in the nation when pretty much the whole team left.
But he has a better idea of why the Bengals were so highly thought of after opening Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play with an 11-3 win at Holly Springs on Tuesday.
I think we have potential, Bissette said. If we hit the ball like we did tonight, our pitchers will definitely get us the W.
Fuquay (2-2, 1-0) had 10 hits and stranded just two runners in scoring position.
You have to give them credit, Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. We got behind in the count, they got in hitters counts and they teed off.
Putting up numbers: Bissette, an N.C. State signee, is used to having a good day on the mound. This was an unusual day, however, with six strikeouts and six walks in 3 2/3 innings and an even better day at the plate with with four RBIs.
Ive been hitting the ball real good in BP this year. Its coming around a lot more this year, said Bissette, who batted eighth last season.
Holly Springs pitcher Andy Wantz took the loss after two innings of work but drove in two of his teams three runs on a double in the first.
What worked: Fuquay coach Milton Senter knows the top three in his lineup seniors D.J. Burt, Brett Daniels and Nick Yarborough are dangerous, and they proved it by reaching base nine times in the first five innings while going 6-for-7 at the plate.
The top three hadnt been a problem, we needed to pick up a couple more guys that hit the ball well. Id love to have six, Senter said.
They get on base, what seems like every time. We need someone to score them, Bissette said.
Bissette, the clean-up hitter, drove in all three off a double in the first and then sophomore Justin Shelton (3-for-4, five RBIs) had a three-RBI triple in the second.
Fuquays 1-5 hitters were a combined 10-for-17 and reached base five other times on a walk, error or hit-by-pitch.
Turning point: After answering Fuquay-Varinas three runs in the top of the first with three of their own, the Golden Hawks were poised to do similarly in the second inning.
Fuquay-Varina, now up 7-3, had loaded the bases on an error and two walks with one out. But Bissette got out of the jam with a strikeout to No. 3 hitter Conlin Hughes and then a 1-3 groundout from Wantz.
I think if we get something there, then its a different ball game, Whitesell said. Then we dont get something and they go score two more (in the third).
Looking ahead: It was the first loss for Holly Springs (3-1, 0-1), which had just been named the No. 1 team in The News & Observers area rankings. Whitesell saw a chance for his team to learn from the loss.
Its the little things here and there, Whitesell said. Were right there, we just never could finish plays tonight.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps