Ricky Beale is no stranger to the Evans High School baseball uniform.
Evans' new baseball coach, Ricky Beal, runs the team through a fielding drill during a recent practice.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
He wore the pinstripes as a player when the Knights won state titles in 1989 and '90. He later donned the diamond attire as an assistant coach and helped Evans haul in three region titles the past three seasons.
But as Beale steps on the field today for the Knights season opener at Greenbrier, he will wear the uniform for the first time as the head coach of the Evans High Knights.
When Beale was hired, the history of Evans baseball included multiple state championships and region titles, but only three head coaches. Beale replaced Chris Segraves, who resigned to become the school's assistant principal.
Segraves won region championships in each of his five seasons with the Knights. His predecessor, Terry Holder, had led Evans to five state championships.
Beale played for Holder, and he was an assistant under Segraves, so the new leader of the Knights is accustomed to winning.
"I'm hoping (the fans) will see a continuation of the great history of Evans baseball," Beale said.
As an assistant, Beale's job was to get the pitchers ready. Though he paid attention to the rest of the team, he wasn't responsible for them.
He will be now.
To help him prepare for the transition, Beale said his father and two brothers - all former or current high school head baseball coaches - offered up this piece of advice.
"They told me to make it be your own program," Beale said. "I want people to say that it is my program now."
Beale, who played second base for the Knights, is hoping his team, which returns four starters, will help him take ownership of the program.
Early on, Beale said the strength of his team seems to be the defense.
Jon Lee and Justin Walker will return to their shortstop and second base positions, respectively. First baseman Brendan Thomas also is a returning starter, and Fernando Mickens will be back chasing down fly balls out in center field.
Beale said sophomore catcher Mike Armstrong will give the pitchers a good target to throw to and should turn into a great player.
"We're going to have a competitive group," Beale said. "Plus we'll have some pitchers who will throw strikes."
John Wehr was solid on the mound last season, and will be heavily relied on in 2002. Seth Newsome has transferred in from Greenbrier, which gives Evans additional help on the hill.
For Beale, the road to being named head coach had several pit stops.
After high school, he attended Augusta College where he played four years. In 1996 he was an assistant coach at Butler High School. He then served two years as the head coach for Evans Middle School, after which he returned to Evans High as an assistant.
Beale is hoping the experience he picked up along the way will gain him some credibility with his players.
"You hope they will listen," he said. "We've had some real good years. We're just going to continue what we started here and hopefully raise the bar each year."
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