With the departure of Marty Gantt, Christian Powell and Daniel Aldrich, College of Charleston baseball coach Monte Lee knew some of his younger players would get an opportunity to play this spring.
Radford vs. College of Charleston
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.Saturday, 5 p.m.Sunday, noonWhere: Patriots PointRecords: Radford 23-17; CofC 22-18.Tickets: www.cofcsports.com
Lee just didn’t anticipate it would be quite this much.
Going into today’s three-game series with Radford, the Cougars have four freshmen as everyday starters in the lineup. Throw in freshman starting pitcher Nathan Helvey, who is second in the Southern Conference with a 2.68 ERA, and there’s definitely a youth movement afoot at Patriots Point.
True freshmen Alex Pastorius, Blake Butler and Carl Wise and redshirt-freshman Morgan Phillips have been mainstays in the Cougars’ lineup since the middle of the season. While the four freshmen have experienced their share of growing pains, the Cougars are still within striking distance of a SoCon title. They have combined to start more than 100 games already this season.
“We’ve had those four freshmen in the lineup a little bit by necessity, but to be honest, we’ve had them in the lineup because they’re pretty good players,” Lee said. “I think going into the season I felt like Pastorius, Butler, Wise and Phillips would contribute this year. I knew they’d be given opportunities. To their credit, they’ve gotten the opportunity and run with it.”
Pastorius has been a defensive standout, making several spectacular catches in right field. He is hitting .276 with a .387 on-base percentage. The Towson, Md., native has nine doubles and has scored 23 runs, despite missing the last week with a minor injury.
Butler has started every game at second base since the second weekend of the season. The Greensboro, N.C. native, had a season-high four RBIs against Charleston Southern and has a .424 on-base percentage. Since the Davidson series, Butler has hit .500 with 13 runs and a .676 slugging percentage.
Wise just recently became an everyday starter for the Cougars as he has played either first or third base in each of the last 11 games. In that stretch, Wise, who played at White Knoll High, has hit safely in every game and compiled a .400 batting average with four extra-base hits.
Phillips, a native of New York, hit his first two career home runs against Davidson two weeks ago. The centerfielder is hitting .253 with 14 extra-base hits and 19 runs scored.
Helvey, who played at Fort Mill, has solidified a spot in the Cougars’ starting rotation with a 4-2 mark. He has struck out 21 batters in 401/3 innings. However, Helvey experienced some arm tenderness during the series with UNC Greensboro at the beginning of the motnth, and has missed his last two starts. Helvey is not expected back in the lineup for at least two weeks.
None of the four expected to play this much, this early. But none are complaining. Despite being solid contributors this season, the four still have to pay their dues. That means setting up the batting cages, taking care of the field, collecting all the balls after practice and worst of all — doing the laundry of the upper classmen.
“It’s just a part of being a freshman,” Butler said. “Everyone has to go through it as a freshman, so it’s not that big of a deal.”