Panthers boast experience, unity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Chesapeake Panthers first-year head coach Joe Waugh will take over a veteran team that he hopes will challenge in the Ohio Valley Conference race.

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Chesapeake Panthers first-year head coach Joe Waugh will take over a veteran team that he hopes will challenge in the Ohio Valley Conference race.

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An assistant last year, Waugh has coached many of the players in the Chesapeake Little League and Senior League.

"Overall, our experience is good. Our seniors have been starters for the most part for four years and the juniors for three years," said Waugh.

The experience should pay off in the pitching department where the Panthers feature junior Zeb Best, seniors Andy Clark, Michael Newman, Mark Adams, and Adam Pemberton.

"I look for our pitching to be pretty good. Right now it’s a little behind. We got the basketball players a little late and that has put us behind,"said Waugh. "We have some depth, and depth can carry you quite a way, especially when you have so many games in a short time."

Best figures to be the team’s ace, but he injured a knee at the end of the basketball season and was a late starter. Waugh said the healing process has been fairly rapid.

"Best is running fine and throwing on it and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him," said Waugh.

Although he doesn’t have the added experience, senior Greg Lambert will be the catcher. Waugh has been impressed with the Panthers receiver.

"He hasn’t played since his sophomore year, but he’s getting back into the swing of things. He hasn’t caught since youth ball, but he’s picking it up and once he starts thinking like a catcher he’ll do all right," said Waugh.

Junior Noah Phillips is at first base where he alternated last year.

"Noah did a lot of offseason work and changed his swing and he’s coming around offensively," said Waugh.

Second base will go to junior Joey Macri for the second straight year.

"I thought he had a tremendous year last season. He’s always been a contact hitter and last year he did a super job. He’s gotten a little stronger and the conditioning programs (basketball) coach (Norm) Persin has has strengthened him," Waugh said.

Adam Pemberton, who hasn’t played since his freshman year, is the shortstop. Pemberton’s quick hands produced steals in basketball and Waugh said that quickness will be an asset in baseball.

"He has great quickness and great hands. His arm is not quite in shape yet, but it’ll get there," said Waugh.

Third base will be mainly handled by Best when he’s not pitching. Newman will fill in for Best when he pitches.

Newman and Clark will alternate in left and Waugh said Clark is his Mr. Versatility.

"A coach would give anything to have a player like Clark who can play all the places he does and play them well," Waugh said.

Junior Josh Waugh, the son of the head coach, is in center and his excellent speed and defensive skills will anchor the outfield.

"He can cover a lot of yardage. It’s always nice to have that speed in center that can cover the alleys," coach Waugh said.

Right field is a battle between senior Tony Bell, a first-year player, junior Todd Oberly who is a converted infielder, and junior Ernest Bonecutter.

Overall, coach Waugh said team chemistry could be a positive intangible.

"I think the one thing that stands out with these boys is they’ve played together and they’re all friends. It helps with team unity. When you get all nine of them playing together good things can happen," said coach Waugh.

In the Ohio Valley Conference race, Waugh sees a lot of parity.

"South Point has been the dominate team the last couple of years, but I see a lot of balance. I still see them as the favorite because they’ve been there. It’s a new experience," said coach Waugh.

"Rock Hill has some good players back, and Fairland has some good young players who could come through if they have matured. Coal Grove has some good pitchers, and I wouldn’t rule us out."