CLOVER — Darrell VanDyke knows a thing or two about the high school baseball season.
VanDyke, who previously coached at East Gaston High School in Mount Holly, N.C., is entering his seventh season as head baseball coach in Clover.
With the high school baseball season in full swing, VanDyke hopes the Blue Eagles can find a groove.
The team went 2-3 in the preseason and lost to Gaffney twice and South Pointe once in the regular season. Results against Northwestern in Tuesday’s game were not available.
The rain has made play sporadic , he said.
“I know it’s been that way for all of the teams we play,” said VanDyke. “We’ve had to make adjustments because of the weather. There have been times when we’ve practiced in the gym and played in the rain. We need to get into a rhythm.”
Thecoach has been pleased with the effort during the preseason and regular season.
“The kids have great attitudes and play hard,” he said. “We are a much improved team this year. The talent level is the best it’s been in two years.”
The Blue Eagles have nine returning players from last year’s team, including Chase Goldberg, Zane Van Hook and Corey Parham. Key newcomers include hard-throwing Patrick Love, Davis McCarter and Barrett Courtwright.
VanDyke describes the team’s mindset and commitment to the program a little differently.
“We aren’t digging,” he said. “I prefer to say the team is climbing.”
VanDyke looks for another wild season in always-tough Region 3-AAAA.
“If you don’t come prepared to play every game, you’ll get beat,” he said. “The region is that competitive.”
The Blue Eagles have had their moments in the preseason and early stages of regular-season play.
“We were 2-3 in a preseason tournament,” said VanDyke. “All of the games were close.”
The Blue Eagles’ improvement was evident in a 5-5 game with a good Fort Mill team that reached the eighth inning before being canceled.
“We were one misplay away from having the lead,” he said. “We will pick up the game in the eighth inning when the team travels to Fort Mill March 26.”
This is VanDyke’s 34th season as a high school baseball head coach, 27 of which were at East Gaston where he compiled an eyebrow-raising 362-289-2 record.
His 71 wins at Clover pushes his career win total well over the coveted 400 mark.
“I’ve coached a lot of years and had good players,” VanDyke . “More importantly, I’ve had a lot of great young men.”
The Blue Eagles conclude a busy week when they host region rivals Rock Hill at 6 p.m. Friday.
Previous games this week were against non-region foe Gaffney and region county rival Northwestern.
With VanDyke serving as head coach of the Blue Eagles, Judd Dye and Hank Wofford are the varsity assistants. Robbie Wiggans is the head junior varsity baseball coach at Clover High School.