It won’t be long before Copperheads’ Head Coach and Geneal Manager Keith Ritsche, right, welcomes the newest edition to Asheboro.
By Keith Ritsche
Head Coach/General Manager
Winter freezes on, but the college baseball season begins to heat up as many student-athletes will begin to test their hard work and preparation from the off-season. Then again, there is no true “off-season” as most sports are year-round.
Included in that is the development of a college baseball player in the summer months. For most, the books are put away unless summer classes must be completed. In that case, many dedicated ballplayers will still be taking classes on campus or remotely while sharpening their skills on the diamond. What may get lost in the shuffle is that a player must be willing to sacrifice their summer of vacationing or spending time with their families or loved ones. This,
after all, is a chance for each player to get a taste of what professional baseball is like.
No, the players are not paid to play in the Coastal Plain League and it’s not necessarily considered professional baseball. The CPL acts as a stepping stone to help prepare these players for a career in professional baseball if they are so fortunate to move on to the next level.
Many similarities between the CPL and professional ball exist, including the schedule, the fan experience, games
between innings, long bus trips, mascots, etc. The competition between players is quite similar as many of these players will either get drafted one day by a major league baseball organization or sign professional contracts of some sort.
Along the way, a player may develop great long lasting relationships within his summer community, with teammates, the fans and their respective host families. For some, the bonds that are made in the summer will create memories and connections that last a lifetime.
As I enter my sixth season as head coach and continue my first season as General Manager of the Copperheads,
it’s hard to say that I haven’t enjoyed the journey to this point. Actually I’ve cherished every second of it.
I’ve learned as much from the players as I hope they have learned from me and our coaches. It’s just as rewarding to see what comes of the player after they have moved on from the Copperheads and graduated from college.
Although the players come to Asheboro in late May, the roster must be constructed much earlier each season. Constructing a roster is not based off of just statistics or numbers, what school a player may attend or classification year that they may be. For us, it comes down to how passionate about the game each player is and how willing they are to improve on a daily basis. This comes with researching each player and the trust and relationships with college coaches.
Of course, talent and what we call a player’s “up-side” does play a factor. I have been fortunate in my many years as a coach to have as many quality individuals play for me as I have.
In the coming months, we will be unveiling the 2020 roster, while updating everyone on each player’s progress during their spring seasons. This season’s Copperheads roster will consist of players from 17 different states from across the country and one from Canada.
The roster will include players from ACC and Big 12 schools such as Wake Forest, West Virginia and Boston College, as well as players from perennial mid-major power house programs such as UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina and Tennessee Tech. In 2018 Tennessee Tech went 53-12, finishing one game away from the College World
Series while having a program record-breaking eight players selected in the MLB draft that season.
Players from UNC-Charlotte and Catawba will be on the roster as they have continued to provide us some very
talented players year in and year out. Some of our players will have ties to current major league players while another will be forgoing his senior high school season and stepping right into an ACC uniform this spring.
Another interesting addition on our roster will be an infielder who was a quarterback in college before deciding to make a switch to the baseball diamond. In addition, we will have some local talent and some returners from the 2019 squad.
In all, we are excited to see what these players can do in a Copperheads uniform and for the start of another Copperheads’ season.