Play ball!!! The 2019 Piedmont Pride summer collegiate roster is shaping up, and that can only mean one thing Pride fans… Pride Baseball is back for another summer! The Red and Blue will be looking to repeat as the Southern Collegiate Baseball League regular season champions, and look to claim the SCBL tournament championship once again.
The Pride has been very successful in their short career with the SCBL, capturing regular season titles in 2015, 2016, and 2018, while winning the postseason tournament championship in 2017. In four years under head coach Joe Hudak, The Pride has gone an astonishing, 123-39, for an average record of 31-10.
The 2019 roster boasts players from nine different states The 33 players will report to Rock Hill for a summer of baseball and ministry. Fifteen players will stay in their home state of South Carolina, while five will make the trip one state south from North Carolina. Four Pride players hail from the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, three from Georgia, two from the Sunshine State of Florida, and one each from Colorado, Mississippi, and Alabama. Richard de la Cruz will return to Rock Hill this summer as the only International player on the Red and Blue, calling the Dominican Republic home. Eight Pride players are returning from last year’s regular season championship team.
Head Coach Joe Hudak is excited about this summer’s club. “I think we have a chance to have another very good club”, explained Hudak. “I believe positionally we will be very sound. We have 7 returning position players who will be able to help the new players adjust both on and off the diamond.” The pitching staff consists of 14 very talented, but young arms. “We have 11 freshmen and 3 sophomore arms, most of whom have not had a lot of college experience”, the veteran mentor explained. “One of the things that I enjoy the most about coaching is working to help develop young pitchers.”
Hudak is also excited about his 3 assistant coaches this summer. Last summer’s number one assistant Dalton Tharp returns for his second season with the Pride. “Dalton did a fantastic job for us last year, and I’m excited to have him back”, stated Hudak. Tharp will be joined in the dugout by two former Pride players , Daniel Sweeney and Jason Goe. Sweeney (East Tennessee State University) pitched for the Pride in 2015 and 2016, while Goe (Morehead State University) pitched in 2016. “It’s really great to have Daniel and Jason coaching with us this summer.”, Hudak continued. “They both have decided they want to make coaching their profession. They will both be outstanding coaches”.
If it seems like the Pride roster is a little bigger this year, that’s because it is. The past 4 years, Hudak has carried 26-28 players. There’s a reason this year’s roster has increased to 33. The past 4 years, the team has taken a mission trip to the Dominican Republic after the playoffs. That trip was open to any player who wanted to go. Only 10-12 players were able to go each year, since there wasn’t much time before they had to be back at school. Coach Hudak felt that those trips were so impactful for the players that he decided to make the life-changing trip mandatory for all players. The team will take 3 trips over three consecutive weeks in July. The larger roster ensures that the Pride will have enough players for both the SCBL games at home, as well as the games played in the DR.
Ministry and serving the community will once again be a huge part of the summer for the boys in the Red and Blue. In addition to the mission trips, team Bible studies, Sunday morning church, and multiple service projects to give back to the community are being planned for The Pride.
The Red and Blue will once again call York Comprehensive High School their home field in 2019. All games will be nine innings, with a 7:00 P.M. start time. Games will be on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Fans can stay up-to-date on the 2019 schedule and all things Pride by visiting the Pride website at www.pridebaseball.net.