Entering its third season, Piedmont Pride is still looking for its first Southern Collegiate Baseball League postseason title.
But with two consecutive regular season titles in hand and considerable off-the-field mission work and community service in Rock Hill with the Boys and Girls’ Club and other local youth groups, and abroad, chiefly the annual end-of-year trip to the Dominican Republic, Joe Hudak’s fledgling program has to be deemed a success.
“You know me, if we’re gonna keep score, we’re gonna play to win,” said Hudak. “That’s important. But for me, just as important is the impact it’s had off the field. Watching our kids grow spiritually, watching them mature into hopefully men of character and integrity and seeing them give back to the community.”
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to scrounge together a roster, housing and financial backing for the faith-based organization. Hudak does most of that himself and much of the work isn’t completed until the final days before the season begins, if then.
Putting a team together is the easy part, he said. Hudak still has a spidering network of connections from his Winthrop coaching days. And players that had successful experiences the past two years with the Pride tell their college teammates, hence the gaggle of Morehead State and Dayton players joining the team this summer after positive past experiences for their college buddies in Rock Hill.
Fund-raising and finding a home for the team and its players is easily the toughest aspect of Hudak’s responsibilities.
“The people of York County have always stepped up,” he said.
The Pride won 64 of its 78 regular season games the last two summers at Winthrop Ballpark, but will play home games this summer at York Comprehensive High School. The Pride players lived in York last summer and played in Rock Hill, but will do the reverse this summer. York coach Eddie Tisdale played for Hudak at Winthrop.
The players will live together in apartments in Rock Hill, a crucial experience in Hudak’s opinion to meld the group together. The Pride have 28 players from 12 different states and are the only true college summer team in the SCBL, in that the players come from all over the country and live together away from home. Other SCBL teams mostly draw on college players that returned home for the summer months.
Running the program that way isn’t cheap and Hudak still needs help sponsoring his players. Two different options are available, one called Pride Foster Families, in which a $500 donation covers a player’s expenses for the summer, and another called Pride Partners, in which a $250 donation pays for a team meal. Much more information is available at pridebaseball.net.
Catchers: Kitt Capell (Western Carolina); Bailey Montoya (Dayton); Brody Shoupe (Morehead State)
Infielders: Tee Dubose (1B, Francis Marion); Josh Baker (1B/OF, Morehead State); Roury Glanton (1B/OF, Georgia Southern); Cody Littlejohn (3B/2B, Tennessee Tech); Zach Shank (3B/2B, Eastern New Mexico); Hayden Smith (SS/2B, Middlebury); Javon Martin (SS/2B, Florence-Darlington Tech); Joe Campagna (SS/2B, Slippery Rock)
Outfielders: David Posas (OF, Mercer); Connor Wilson (OF, Dayton); Sam Sustercic (OF, Dodge City CC); Brian Wood (OF, Dayton); Jake Wright (OF/P, South Carolina); Josh Gregory (OF/P, South Carolina); Taylor Goodwin (OF/P, Gardner-Webb)
Pitchers: Alex Nodarse (LHP, Belmont Abbey); Cort Conway (LHP, Morehead State); Tristan Helms (LHP, Appalachian State); Steven Estep (LHP, North Greenville); Carey Spratlin (LHP/OF, Gardner-Webb); Tommy Guglielmello (RHP, Pasco Hernando CC); Zach English (RHP, LaGrange); Enrique Perez (RHP, Eastern New Mexico); Korey Prince (RHP, Pasco Hernando CC); John Brocklebank (RHP, Radford)
May: 31 at Carolina Vipers
June: 2 Concord Athletics (DH); 3 at Concord Athletics (DH); 5 at SBA Bones; 8 Charlotte Galaxy; 9 Carolina Vipers (DH); 10 at Carolina Vipers (DH); 12 at Charlotte Galaxy; 14 SBA Bones; 16 Lake Norman Copperheads (DH); at Lake Norman Copperheads (DH); 19 at Carolina Vipers; 21 Charlotte Galaxy; 23 at Charlotte Galaxy (DH); 24 Charlotte Galaxy (DH); 28 at Concord Athletics; 30 at SBA Bones (DH)
July: 1 SBA Bones (DH); 5 at SBA Bones (DH); 7 Concord Athletics (DH); 8 at Lake Norman Copperheads (DH); 10 Carolina Vipers; 12 SBA Bones; 13 at Concord Athletics; 17 at Charlotte Galaxy; 19 Carolina Vipers; 21 Lake Norman Copperheads (DH)