Poised for third straight run to the state final

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fuqua School’s varsity baseball team has knocked on the door of a state championship the past two years, and a new head coach will look to put the Falcons in a similar situation this season in the hopes of bringing home the title.

After John Adams concluded an outstanding run as head coach, Taylor Myers, his assistant coach last year, has been named his successor. Myers brings elite-level experience in the sport.

“I played at Blessed Sacrament Huguenot back in the late 2000s and then went on to play at the University of Virginia from 2010-14,” he said.

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The Virginia Cavaliers are a national powerhouse in college baseball, and he played catcher for them.

Pondering the prospects for the 2019 Falcons, Myers admits that the team will miss the services of graduates Hunter Gilliam and Clay Osborn. Gilliam is playing for Longwood University this season.

“It’ll be hard to replace them, but this year, the team has the potential to make it back to the state championship again,” Myers said. “That’s what we’re striving for. We don’t have a conference championship to go to, so we’re striving for the state championship.”

This year, the team is comprised of three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, two freshmen and one eighth-grader.

Myers has a vast array of options he can employ at the pitching position.

“We’ve got Colton Copley, D.J. Williams, Christian Adams, Matt Osborn, Elijah Warner and Braxton McClure and Tanner Cyrus that will be leading the charge from the mound, pitching-wise,” the coach said. “And so we have a good system of arms, a rotation of arms.”

Myers noted that last year, Williams and Copley served as the team’s one-two punch, but it remains to be seen who will emerge as the No. 1 pitcher this year.

Based on one preseason game, Myers said, “I would say probably Colton, D.J., Christian and Matt, as well as Tanner Cyrus surprised me and threw a heck of a game last week, so there’s not really a clear-cut No. 1, but there will be eventually down the road.”

The coach made a point to highlight everyone on the team, individually, as he noted what Fuqua would be capable of this season.

“And then from a defensive standpoint and offensive standpoint, we have Tanner Thomas, Wade Haney, Cody Fulford, as well as Hunter Gibson and Drew Osborn back,” Myers said. “We’ll see how the rest are. I think the only ones I haven’t really mentioned are Luke Gee and Tyler Harris and Hayes Barton. We’re going to see how they fit into the whole process, but from the preseason, Hayes has given us a lot of good momentum on the base paths.”

The coach would not name particular players that will lead the Falcons’ offense as he expects leadership there to be a group achievement that will be organized consistently by merit.

“It’s going to be a team effort, honestly, because from the top of the lineup all the way down to the bottom, I’m going to play the best nine guys,” he said. “It doesn’t matter their age or grade, so everyone is going to have to contribute in some sort of way, because we have a lot of people on the team this year, and the best nine are going to play.”

The trio of Falcons seniors includes Adams, Cyrus and Williams. The juniors are Copley, Gibson, Drew and Matt Osborn and Warner. The sophomores include Barton, Fulford, Gee and Harris, the freshmen are McClure and Thomas, and the eighth-grader is Haney.

Fuqua was set to open its season Tuesday at Fork Union Military Academy, but that game was canceled. The Falcons will now begin play March 18, after Spring Break, at Blessed Sacrament Huguenot (BSH) Catholic School.

It will be a big game for Myers, who said, “The same coach that coached me is still there.”