Chilly March-like winds in the final days of February are a true indication that high school baseball is upon us.
York and Clover teams have been battling the elements this month in preparation for the 2009 regular season, scheduled to begin next week.
With ample experience returning from last year's Region 3-AAAA champions, the Cougars are hoping for a repeat this season.
"We're excited about the new season," YCHS head coach Scott Kiggans said after a wind-blown workout stressing fundamentals. "The kids are working hard to be ready for regular-season play."
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Kiggans has been pleased with the team's work ethic since the 2008 season concluded.
"We've had a good offseason," he said. "The players are doing what's expected of them."
Added Kiggans: "They want to go further than last year; that's their goal. They know it will take a lot of hard work. We have a lot of experience returning."
Senior third-baseman Shane Waldrop said the players have set bigger goals.
"We want to do more than defend our region title," Waldrop said. "We're working hard and want to go to the state."
Another key player, outfielder Josh Green, is one of 10 returning juniors.
"We all have to contribute but pitching is the key to success," Green said.
The Cougars will be competing in the Frank Roach Preseason Tournament Thursday, March 5 at South Pointe. The action will begin at 6 p.m.
Blue Eagles young, energetic
Meanwhile, the Blue Eagles have devoted much time to fundamemtals and early-season conditioning.
"We are a young team, with only two seniors on the squad," Clover High baseball coach Darrell VanDyke said.
Though this year's varsity players have a lot to learn, VanDyke likes what he sees on the field in February preparations.
"Practices have been great," the veteran coach said of the preseason workouts. "I would say it's the best since I've been here."
Said VanDyke, "I don't know how good we are or how good we're gonna be, but the kids are working hard."
With only three starters returning, VanDyke said player development is a top priority.
"We've had good team effort in scrimmages so far," he said.
Blue Eagle sophomore Hayden Hendry echoes the coach's sentiments.
"We've had good effort in the preseason," he said. "The future looks bright.
"We need good pitching, solid defense and to put the bat on the ball."
Teammate Ben Pendleton, a junior, offered his needs assessment for the current season.
"We need to play together, stay together and execute," declared Pendleton.
The Blue Eagles host Lewisville Thursday, March 5 in the Rock Hill Post 34 Preseason Tournament. Gametime is 5 p.m.