As much as last summer was a success despite the difficult circumstances, the High Point-Thomasville HiToms are ready to get back to normal.
The HiToms, members of the summer collegiate wooden bat Coastal Plain League, return to action with games this weekend at Finch Field.
They’re slated to play tonight against the Carolina Disco Turkeys at 6 p.m. and on Sunday evening against the Catawba Valley Stars at 5 p.m.
High Point-Thomasville will open CPL play Tuesday at Asheboro.
“I think it’s exciting for us to continue being on the field,” HiToms president Greg Suire said. “We never stopped. So, from the highly successful summer we had last year to the fall league to the spring high school league, this is business as usual for the HiToms.
“Because the HiToms persevered and the HiToms continue to roll. We’re just glad that all of our fans who want to come can now come. That’s my biggest excitement. We never abdicated our obligation and our support of our student-athletes. I’m just thankful our fans get to come back to Finch Field.”
High Point-Thomasville went ahead and played last summer — one of the few teams regionally to do so. And with great success, posting a 20-7 record and winning the Mid-Atlantic Division of the CPL.
A handful of players return off that team — including UNCG’s Hogan Windish, who was selected the league’s hitter of the year after leading the league in batting average (.447) and RBIs (37).
Plus, locals Avery Cain (Ledford), Tyrese Hearst, Gavin Mortenson, Luke Spiva (Ledford), Chet Sikes and Luke Davis — who’ve all played in the HiToms program previously — highlight the roster as well.
“Greg’s all about local talent — that’s what puts butts in the seats,” said coach Scott Davis. “We want the best local talent we can get. We play a very competitive schedule with our exhibition games and, of course, the CPL schedule is always tough.
“So, we want to assemble the best local college talent we can and then sprinkle in kids from all over who give us the best chance to win. The ultimate goal, of course, is to win a CPL title at the end of the year. So, it’s a little different because you’re working with a roster that’s always changing.
“But you’ve got to work within the confines of the kids and the schools they represent and try to put the best product you can on the field.”
This season — which will feature 34 home games, including 22 CPL games — looks to be a good opportunity toward getting back to normal and making strides on the baseball field.
“It’s awesome,” said Cain, a rising senior pitcher/catcher at King University. “I was telling someone the other day that when I was a kid I always wanted to come out here and play for the HiToms. Last year was a little weird because nobody could come out.
“So, this year we’re going to have some people out here and it’s cool to be able to play in front of a crowd — especially having grown up in this area and seeing everyone again. It’s awesome.”
The last year knocked many athletes off-track — including Gabe Golob. After it canceled last season early, New York University chose to not play again this year. So, it’s been over a year since he’s played in real games.
Now, as he transfers to Wake Forest as a post-graduate, he’s looking to get back on track this summer, make an impression with the Demon Deacons and ultimately pursue his goal of playing professionally.
“I can’t wait,” said Golob, a right-handed pitcher. “It’s hard to get that same level of focus and adrenaline and all that comes with playing in a game — needing to make a 3-2 pitch to get out of an inning or being in a tight situation and needing to execute pitches.
“Just sort of that adrenaline, that rush when you get that guy out and you get fired up and celebrate with your teammates. That’s something that I’m looking forward to a lot.”
Over the next couple weeks, additional players will filter in from programs that are continuing their postseason. The HiToms will host their first CPL games June 10 with a doubleheader against Forest City. They will continue play through the end of July, followed by the Petitt Cup playoffs the first week of August.
The CPL will be divided into two divisions this year — with the HiToms in the eight-team West Division, which will feature familiar foes including Asheboro and Forest City, and some new faces, like the Spartanburgers (shifting from Gastonia to Spartanburg, South Carolina), the Macon Bacon and the Savannah Bananas.