Coming off a 2-16 season with no wins in the Patriot Athletic Conference, the Phoenix decided it was time for a change on the baseball diamond.
Oberlin athletic director John Carter has taken over as coach for Lynn Gray, whose tenure at the helm of the team lasted nine years.
It won’t be the first time Carter has served as both athletic director and varsity baseball coach. The former Minor League pitcher performed both duties during his time with the Fairview Park City school district.
“We just felt it was time to go in a different direction here,” Carter said regarding the switch. “We thank coach Gray for his time, but the program had hit a stale point and it wasn’t growing. As the athletic director, I thought a new voice was needed in the dugout.”
“After getting all the applications to fill the vacancy, I felt that I was the right person to move the program forward,” he said.
The Phoenix have won just four games over the past two seasons but return five lettermen: Chris Palmer, Matt Rasmussen, Jackson Schaum, Hunter Clawson, and Sander Ferrazza.
Carter said he expects Palmer, a senior pitcher, to play a big part in anchoring his battery of hurlers. Large contributions on the mound are also expected from Schaum, a junior, as well as freshman Jack Page.
Rasmussen is slated to fill many roles.
“I may need Matt to catch, play first base, and just be a jack-of-all-trades,” said Carter. “Chris Palmer is going to bring a lot offensively and from the mound. Jackson Schaum will likely be our number one pitcher. We’re going to lean on those three individuals a lot. Jack Paige is a strike thrower, and every coach needs one of those.”
With just 12 players on the roster, Carter said more players may be called on to play multiple positions.
“We’re starting from the ground up,” he said. “These kids have the skill and it’s just a matter of learning the game of baseball. My assistant and I love teaching. Even having not played a game yet, I know we’re going to be a much better team.”
Rain postponed the team’s first three games with Wednesday’s contest (after press time) at Brooklyn turning into a de facto opener.
“Our first goal is to win more games than we did last year,” said Carter. “The second part is to end the season and have people say this is the best Phoenix team they’ve seen in the past few years.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
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