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Gray Collegiate High School

 War Eagles baseball growing under new coach Assey Sr.

Chris Dearing

Special Contributor

Columbia - Gray Collegiate was looking for a baseball coach last summer and found one with a winning pedigree. Charles Assey Sr. was helping his son, Charles Assey Jr., win a state championship at Cardinal Newman last year and jumped at the opportunity to be a head coach again.

“I feel like I have another 10 years in me,” Assey Sr. said. “I had an itch to be in charge of a varsity program again and Gray Collegiate offered a great opportunity to work with some great young kids. I can be an assistant anywhere but there’s nothing like running your own program again.”

Assey Sr. has had coaching stints with Brookland-Cayce, Orangeburg Prep, Mims Academy, Willington Academy and Heathwood Hall in his 26 years of coaching. His most successful stint was when he went 198-88 with the Bearcats from 1988-1999. That included winning a Class AAA state championship in 1998 when Charles Jr. was his starting shortstop.

It’s been a solid start with the War Eagles. They opened 6-3 through the first nine games of the season. They have a solid mix of upperclassmen and youngsters making contributions along the way.

Seniors Bryce Sox (shortstop) and Matt Willis (outfield) have been the catalyst for the Gray Collegiate small ball approach. Both hit at the top of the order and are a threat to steal a base once they get on.

“Those two guys are out leaders but we have some underclassmen that have a chance to be really talented players if they stay the course,” Assey Sr. said.

 Assey Sr. said the goal is to steal 100 bases and they’re on pace thus far.

“The thing so far is there is no easy outs in our lineup,” he said. “We don’t look for the 3-run homer. That’s not how this team is built. We want to steal a base, put the ball in play and play small ball as much as possible.”

Catcher Turner Thackson, second baseman Dalton Hale and Guy Epps are a couple of other key position players.

The pitching staff has a top three of Jack Wood, Wyatt Keisler and Dominick McIntosh. They’ve been impressive with their strike out numbers but need to cut down on the walks.

“They’re power guys and that results in a lot of strike outs, but we also issue too many walks,” Assey Sr. said. “We need to get that under control the deeper we get into the season.”

Gray Collegiate softball has opened the season with a 5-3 record and are ranked among the Top 10 of Class AA.



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