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INSIDE THE BATTERS BOX: Delta Charter continues to build team, reputation

Delta Charter School ninth-grade student Trenton Miller is one of the many young players that will play a key role in the team’s success on the diamond this season. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Delta Charter School ninth-grade student Trenton Miller is one of the many young players that will play a key role in the team’s success on the diamond this season. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

It is no secret that the Delta Charter Storm are the new kids on the block.

With the school and baseball program in just its second year of existence, the Storm are still learning the ins and outs of high school baseball.

But Delta Charter head coach Jarrett Hoffpauir insists that this year, the Storm are ready to go.

“We are looking to just keep building,” Hoffpauir said. “Last year was our little step to get the things we needed, but we are past that now. We’re on to baseball, and I think everybody is fired up about it.”

Delta Charter was accepted by the LHSAA in January, but the baseball team will not be competing in a district this season. Most of the games the Storm will play will be junior varsity, but games against varsity teams will be mixed in as well.

Delta Charter players aren’t the only ones learning their way around during this process, Hoffpauir is as well.

“This is my first coaching job,” he said. “I got out of professional baseball two years ago. The opportunity came up and it was something that I had to jump on, and I’m really enjoying it right now.”

Hoffpauir was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft.

But now, Hoffpauir isn’t worrying about where he will be in the lineup, he is having to make those decisions himself.

“You get to see the other side of baseball, of what managers and past coaches have seen,” he said. “You understand a lot more about the game and realize there is more to it than just hitting and catching. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Hoffpauir said he is excited about the team he will send onto the field this season, even if they are one of the youngest in the state.

“Our talent is through the roof,” he said. “We’ve got some talented young kids and I am really excited about that. I think in a couple of years, some people are going to know who we are for sure.”

The pitching staff will anchor the Storm this year, and Hoffpauir said he feels comfortable putting a multitude of players on the mound.

“I’ve got about eight or nine guys that I’m not scared to put in there,” he said. “We have two or three that are going to be our go to guys right out of the gate. Lee Lancaster, Trenton Miller and Carson Curtis will probably be our top three, but there are some more after that, that I won’t have a problem throwing in there.”

For Miller, a freshman, he said it will be a big boost knowing there is more than a few guys who can get the job done.

“When we have a lot of games in a week, that is something nice to have,” he said. “It helps to not have to wear people’s arms out.”

Miller is considered one of the older players on the team, Delta Charter only goes up to the tenth grade, and said he knows a lot of players look up to him.

“I just try to be one of the leaders and show the others how to do things,” Miller said. “I just do what coach tells me to.”

Hoffpauir said the youth of the team has caused Delta Charter’s situation to be a little different than most, but it is something he is embracing.

“It is definitely a different situation because most of the time your seniors are 17 or 18 years old that the freshmen look up to,” he said. “But for us, our sixth and seventh graders are looking up to ninth graders, 15- and 16-year olds. That was a challenge last year and still is.”

However, in the future, Miller said he sees it as an advantage.

“I think it’ll eventually help us because we’ll get stronger, faster and smarter,” he said. “Then we’ll be able to excel.”

As for the lineup, Hoffpauir stressed again the fact that his talent is so widespread, he could put anyone just about anywhere in the order.

“I can throw all the names in a hat, shuffle them up and make a lineup,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of kids that I’m excited about, even seventh and eighth graders that can really swing the bat.”

While things appear to be shaping up for the Storm, Hoffpauir said his main concern is keeping the kids hungry.

“I think everybody understands that we are young, but by the time these kids are seniors and are playing for something, it is going to be something really special,” he said. “Our kids understand that, and they are fine with that. But I think they realize that something special is going to happen here.”