by Aaron Garcia
A three-year starter at catcher for the Weddington baseball team, Andrew Knight is one of four seniors on a Warrior squad that has won eight consecutive games to surge toward the top of the Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference standings, trailing only Marvin Ridge for the league lead.
Knight, a senior, has played a big role in the team’s success this season, from managing a pitching staff brimming with talent to providing several big hits, such as a grand slam against nationally ranked Charlotte Providence. Union County Weekly sat down with the Weddington backstop to discuss the season so far and what lies ahead for him and his Warrior teammates.
Q: You recently signed with Catawba College. How did the recruiting process go, and what did you like about Catawba?
A: Just having my coaches go out and contact people for me. Catawba has come watch me a few times, and I’ve gone up to see them play. They’re really a competitive baseball team, and I felt like it was a really great fit for me.
Q: How long have you been playing baseball?
A: Ever since I can remember.
Q: Your team lost some key pieces but had lots of talent coming back. What was the team’s outlook coming into this season?
A: Coming into the season, we thought we were going to be pretty well off, especially with conference play being three games a week. We knew we had three good No. 1 (pitchers) with Sean Collins, Alex Bostic and Jeremy Schellhorn. But when Schellhorn started having some arm problems, Nate Borrelli really did a good job of stepping up and coming in in key situations and just throwing strikes and getting us some wins.
Q: How has it been managing that staff?
A: Nate’s probably one of my best friends, and me and Bostic and (Collins), we all hang out. We have a great bond. And all the other pitchers, we’re really comfortable with each other. Our reliever, David Pope, I’ve played with him for a ton of years. Just getting to know the pitchers makes it a whole lot easier on my part.
Q: How do you feel with the playoffs approaching?
A: Going into conference play, we were looking to go undefeated. Of course we slipped up a few times and lost a few games to Marvin, but we’re just going in and focusing and playing day to day. We’re making sure we get the hits we need to, making the right plays, pitching and swinging the bats well – that’s something we’ve started to do lately, putting more than just one or two runs up on the board, and that helps our pitchers a lot. It gets them relaxed knowing they have a comfortable lead.
Q: How has the three-game format been on you?
A: It’s been a big adjustment. I had to work a lot harder in the offseason knowing that I was going to be catching three conference games a week. But I’ve done fine with it.
Q: How much of an adjustment has it been to see the same team three times in one week?
A: By the end of the week I’m getting to know all the batters; where to pitch them and what their tendencies are. With this, you’re also seeing a lot more pitchers then you used to, whereas you’d just see their (Nos.) 1 and 2. Now teams are having to get deeper into their bullpens, and it’s really going to show who’s the better team.
Q: You’ve come up with several big hits in big games this year. What’s been your approach at the plate?
A: Throughout my high school career, I’ve always been a backside guy and did a lot of adjustments in the offseason this year, just knowing that with the new bats, those pop flies aren’t going to end up going over the fence. I’ve just been hitting the ball hard and getting on top of it and finding gaps. It’s really just come down to making key hits in key situations. That’s what’s going to win ballgames with these new BBCOR bats.
Q: Those new bats have really made it harder to hit it out?
A: It used to be you could come up to the plate thinking, ‘OK, this is something I really need to hammer’ and try to hit it out of the yard. Now your approach has to be more line-drive, base-to-base. It’s changed the game a lot. There aren’t as many long balls. You aren’t seeing as many guys hitting .500 with eight home runs in high school anymore.
Q: What do you do when you’re not playing ball?
A: I like to fish a lot. I spend a lot of time out on the pond.
Q: What do you fish for?
A: Bass. I fish with Bostic a lot.
Q: What do you use? Live bait?
A: Sinko worms.
Q: What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?
A: I don’t know. I haven’t been fishing that long, actually. I just kind of picked it up this year.
Q: What else do you do?
A: I’m really involved in my church. I’m involved with my youth group and Young Life through the school. I actually want to go into the religious field and the ministry once I get to college. I’m going to major in religion.