The man who built the Heritage baseball program from the ground will be wearing a different shade of blue next spring.
Tony Piercy, the 18-year coaching veteran who led the Huskies in all five years of their existence to date, has been named head coach of the East Wake varsity baseball team. He replaces Derek Matthews, who came to East Wake from C.B. Aycock in 2012.
Piercy hopes to bring a structured, organized coaching style and to build community support around a Warriors squad that hasn’t recorded a winning overall record since 2011.
“We’ve got to get back to those guys putting on an East Wake jersey and it meaning something,” Piercy said. “There’s a right way and wrong way to play the game, and if you do it the right way and respect the game and do things like you’re supposed to, you’ll have success.”
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After a 3-17 campaign in the spring, Matthews noted that the presence of five sophomores on the varsity roster offered the team a “head start” for future seasons. It will be Piercy who has the chance to oversee the development of those young players.
At Heritage, Piercy guided a program that went 2-18 in 2011 – its first-ever season – to one that reached the third round of the 4A state playoffs in 2014 and then went 19-6, including 11-3 in the highly-competitive Cap-8 conference, in 2015.
“I built from scratch a Heritage baseball family,” he said.
The proximity of East Wake to his family’s home in Wendell and the urge to take on a new challenge, conversely, convinced Piercy to leave Heritage when the job become available last month.
He likes that the school is the only one in the area – unlike those in Raleigh or Wake Forest that are “on top of each other,” East Wake’s monopoly on the Wendell and surrounding area offers a better opportunity to become a community staple.
“A big thing is getting the excitement level to the point where people working (youth baseball) camps ... know who you are and what you do. It’s the geographical advantage of being the only one in that area,” Piercy said.
Piercy served as the head baseball coach at Enloe from 2003 to 2010 and, before that, the junior varsity coach at Millbrook and an assistant varsity coach at New Bern as far back as 1997.
He views East Wake as a final destination for his career, a place where he can build a program and remain with it long-term. He expects to start making significant progress as soon as next season.
“I think you’ll see substantial strides ... hopefully in the win-loss column,” he said, “but it’s part of the process ... to just start building the mentality of ‘we’re all in this together and we’re going to grow together.’ ”