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While high school baseball doesn’t get underway officially until 2017, temperatures in the 80s and Carolina blue skies to go along with pennant races heating up in Major League Baseball put me in Monkey Junction on Tuesday.
Changes to the off-season guidelines for high school baseball programs in the state has allowed teams to get a better feel for their team and players moving into the upcoming season this spring. Ashley Assistant Coach Jeff McCullough contributed a story on the new practice instructions and expected pitch count limits below.
With the longest tenured coaching staff in the area, Ashley High School allowed me to get in a few reps and take a few cuts during batting practice. A big thanks goes out to Coach Brian Stewart, Assistant Coach Ben Stroehl and newly retired Assistant Coach Jeff McCullough and Assistant Travis Vithalani.
The core trio of Stewart, Stroehl and McCullough have been a part of Ashley baseball since the schools inception in the early 2000’s and spent some of the afternoon touting the programs newest addition-its state of the art hitting facility-which is located down the left field line at the ball park.
During our 20 minute Facebook LIVE broadcast, pro ball player and Ashley alum Chance Shepard stopped by stay to talk about his first season as part of the Washington Nationals organization after getting picked up by the franchise following the 2016 MLB draft. Shepard spent his summer playing in the Florida Gulf Coast Instructional League.
Finally, I had a chance to go back in time as a former college ball player by taking fly balls, grounders and a couple of swings during batting practice. The smile on my face was like a little kid, but my warning track power received attention from UNCW Hitting Coach Robbie Monday, who said he could get me that extra 30 feet needed to put one out the ball park.