By VAN HOLLAND
Chris Oneil has been hired as the new Tarboro baseball coach. Oneil takes over a program that was successful the past two seasons under former coach Justin Smith.
Smith abruptly resigned in July and moved back to Ohio. That's when the school began making the transition to find a new coach and it worked out perfectly that Oneil wanted to take over the duties.
"I am honored to be a part of this program," Oneil said. "I can't feel more blessed then I do right now for being a part of this and now I'm the head coach."
This is Oneil's second year in the school system and with the baseball program. He was an assistant on Smith's team last year, that went 11-13. Tarboro won the Easter Classic and lost 8-0 to Carrboro in the second round of the NCHSSA 2-A playoffs.
Oneil is pleased with the transition of moving from assistant to head coach, because he has a nucleus of players coming back from last year's team that helped them be productive. Tarboro will be playing in the Two Rivers Conference in 1-A this season.
“Building around the returners will be a smooth transition,” Oneil said. “I know what we have and I know what we are working with at each position.”
Tarboro will be returning two seniors, first baseman Joe Miller and outfielder Wesley Hart. Oneil is looking for Miller to be the main leader of the team this year and is expecting Hart to step up as well.
Oneil will also get back two pitchers who have varsity experience. Jordyn Holland and Markese Clapp helped guide the pitching staff last season and helped on offense. Tarboro will also return second baseman and leadoff hitter, Tristan Bateman.
“With what we have coming back, I believe we are in really good shape,” Oneil said. “It's going to make building around them easier then it would most other teams.”
Oneil knows that the current players who are vying for a starting spot will have to work hard to fill the void for last year's graduates.
“I want to continue what we have been doing and I want these guys to get better every day,” Oneil said. “I want these guys to stay hungry and never be satisfied. I want to add a lot of structure and discipline to the program."
Oneil feels there was discipline last year, but wants to add more to the team, because he feels that will help them in crucial situations and big games.
“That extra discipline will help on the field and we will have objectives every single day,” Oneil said. “I feel like the structure and discipline is what we need to focus on more overall and improve our mental toughness.”
Oneil believes if his team has the mental toughness that he wants them to possess, then it will be beneficial in big games that he thinks can help them win down the stretch. He thinks it will also help in the conference and when they take the field during the playoffs.
Oneil wants his team to win a state championship, but for that to happen, he knows his team will have to put in a lot of hard work to get to the pinnacle of where he thinks they should be.