Eagles working toward postseason

15 years ago
    The Greater Houlton Christian Academy Eagles edged closer to the playoffs a year ago and would like to position themselves to be postseason contenders this season.
    “We were one win away last year,” said GHCA coach John Walker. “Our strength is our veteran presence. With starters returning at every position, we can work on more of the finer points of the game this year.”
The Eagles return all but one player from last year’s team, creating a strong nucleus of players behind County all-stars senior MacKenzie Burns, center field, and junior Chad Duff at shortstop/pitcher/catcher.
“Both have lightening speed and are strong on defense,” said Walker. “They also hit well to all fields.”
Other core players are junior Zack Straubel, catcher/pitcher; junior Jaron Gray, first base; senior Chris Morin, second baseman/shortstop; sophomore Ryan Campbell, catcher/pitcher/third base and junior Ted Bowers, outfield.
“Zack has lifted weights and gained body mass,” said Walker. “He is swinging a great bat. Jaron is a polished lefty who fields his position well. He has a way of getting very timely hits. Chris has a keen batting eye and terrific speed/quickness. He gets to many balls others would miss. Ryan has very soft hands and a quick bat. He absolutely loves playing his position. Teddy has a very powerful bat and sure hands.”
The Eagles’ ace is junior southpaw Jeff Campbell. “He has an array of fast balls, a sinker, and change ups,” said Walker.
Isaiah Straubel will also pitch and back up first base and outfield.  The Eagles have an outfield spot up for grabs and vying for the start are junior Caleb Little, senior Matt Cousins, sophomore Jody Cousins and first-year player, junior Ethan Brady. Other newcomers are freshmen Brandon Gove, a lefty with great promise, said Walker and Joshua Cousins, who is gaining every day, he added.
The Eagles’ designated hitter is senior Brandon LaBlonde. Backing up the infield are senior Matt Lincoln and freshman Adam Little, who also pitches.
Walker, like other high school coaches, realizes it will be pitching and defense that will make a difference in the season, plus staying injury free.
“If we throw strikes with good location and back that pitching with quality defense, we’ll get enough timely hits to win our share of games,” he said. “But, we need to improve our hitting overall. There are some outstanding pitchers in Class D and we will need to score runs against them to back our pitching and defense.”
Walker wants the Eagles to be fundamentally sound in all three facets of the game: pitching, defense and hitting.
“Working as a team is our key to winning,” he said. “To have each player stepping up and performing to their peak ability. We will also need to use our team speed on both offense and defense to succeed. And the rest is up to God.”
The Eagles lack a home field, so all 15 games are played away. Walker, along with assistant coaches Mark Morin and Steve Gray, hopes to have his team on a field for a couple of preseason games before their opener on Friday in Hodgdon.
“This year’s team has confidence that they are a playoff team,” said Walker. “We will be satisfied with nothing short of reaching the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, anything can happen and usually does.”