Hunt baseball coach Jonathan Smith couldn’t point a finger at his athletic director for scheduling a perilous nonconference slate. He is the athletic director.
To start the season, Hunt faced J.H. Rose once, C.B. Aycock twice, South Granville once, North Johnston once, Corinth Holders twice, and Eastern Wayne once all before opening Big East 3A Conference play.
Two of those teams – Aycock and South Granville – have played for a state championship in the last two years. Two – Corinth Holders and North Johnston – are undefeated as of press time Tuesday afternoon. Eastern Wayne had a player selected in the MLB Draft last season and J.H. Rose has the state’s all-time winningest coach.
“Our schedule doesn’t have any holes in it,” Smith said after his team started the year 1-3. “Hopefully it makes us better later in the year, but ‘later in the year’ needs to be tomorrow.”
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Hunt has been steady ever since. The Warriors are 5-4 overall and 2-0 in conference play.
They navigated the nonconference schedule by going 3-4. Hunt won two of its games by one run, so a potential 1-6 start was on the table.
It says something for Hunt that it would seek out those top teams. The N.C. High School Athletic Association uses a unique seeding model for its playoffs. Conference champs get automatic bids, but everyone else gets in by overall winning percentage.
“Every game matters now. These games are like fighting to get into the playoffs,” Smith said. “It comes down to making plays and how you play that day. I think we’ve got it in us.”
The key for Hunt has been improving its defense, which struggled in the first two weeks. No Warriors player is batting over .350 but the pitching staff has held it down. Parker Garris has a 2.21 ERA, Josh Fuller at 1.17 and Bryson Worrell has 0.00 ERA through 16 2/3 innings.