By James Butler
GRIFFIN – A new chapter in Griffin baseball has started as Alexander Wyche has taken over the program from Kevin Mobley.
Wyche comes over from Osborne where he was an assistant coach.
“I took over a great team,” Wyche said. “[I’m] the first African-American head baseball coach at Griffin High School, so it gives me great pleasure to be here.”
Wyche’s Bears improved to 6-4 and 2-0 in Region 4-AAAA with their 7-1 win over Eagles Landing on Thursday. At first glance some might expect more than six wins in 10 games from a team that finished second in its region a season ago. Wyche, however, put his team into deep water in the pre-region play as Griffin played teams that were going to severely test them.
“We played some tough teams earlier. We were preseason No. 6. We played preseason No. 2,” Wyche said. “After Whitewater we played Class AAAAAA and AAAAA schools just so we’ll get ready for region play.”
The Bears fell to the second-ranked Wildcats 8-0, but had a close 6-4 loss to Class AAAAA’s McIntosh and a 9-8 extra inning loss to Class AAAAAA’s North Cobb. Senior shortstop and ace pitcher Cornelius Randolph can live with Griffin’s season thus far, but he sees a specific area the Bears can improve upon.
“The season has been going decent. We’ve been playing alright,” Randolph said. “We need to cut down on the errors, but other than that we’re getting better.”
Senior center fielder Keyston Fuller, who is co-captain with Randolph, agrees and he thinks the Bears are in a good spot and are ready to reach their full potential.
“I feel good about everything. I feel like the guys are improving. You got some young guys in key positions stepping up, doing some big things,” Fuller said. “I feel like everybody’s learning, including myself. Everybody can always improve every day, so from game-to-game we try to make the most out of.”
Wyche thinks alot of his dynamic duo of Randolph and Fuller and the overall talent on his team, but wants them to work as a talented unit instead of talented individuals.
“We got Randolph who is one of the top prospects in the nation and a Clemson commit,” Wyche said.
“We have a Duke commit, Fuller, who is really hot at the bat now and is also a prospect. Then we have some young guys that are coming up who are going to be great. The biggest thing with us is that we just continue to develop baseball guys not just great athletes.”
Randolph, the team’s ace pitcher, is joined on the mound by 6-foot-4 senior lefty Nathaniel Jones who had three of the Bears’ first six wins. Griffin can also count on sophomore Kody Fulgham on the mound. In the Eagles Landing victory, Fulgham showed good stuff as he struck out seven.
“Overall we have a lot of pitchers that we can use in different situations,” Wyche said. “We’re just trying to get them game situations so they can be ready for this last long stretch.”
Wyche has already said he is saving Randolph, the man with the 0.19 ERA from a season ago, for a March 23 matchup with the team that figures to battle Griffin for the top spot in Region 4-AAAA — Pike County.
Pike moved up to Class AAAA from Class AAA, but not before they made the Elite Eight in the state tournament last year.
As a team, Griffin has its sights on a region title — something the Bears won in 2013. Seniors like Randolph, Jones and Fuller don’t want to end their careers without knowing that feeling again.
“It would mean a lot,” Fuller said. “Since I’m going out I want to finish with a bang. I think all of our seniors on the team want to finish with a bang. We’re just trying to play well, get better every day, and get first.”