New approach leading to success for Rebels

Zac Cole

NEW MARKET — New Market Rebels head coach Zac Cole decided to take a different approach to his offense this season and so far it’s working out well.

Last year Cole said he tried to get players who could hit for power, but this season he wanted some more speed.

“We tried to find some guys that could run and have that tool,” Cole said on Tuesday afternoon. “So I think so far we’ve stole quite a few bases to start the season. We’ve still got a couple guys in the middle of the order that can bang it around.”

The Rebels have 20 stolen bases so far this season, but they are also second in the Valley Baseball League with six homers.

Chase Suddeth (North Georgia College) has been leading the way so far this year for the Rebels. He is batting .385 (10-for-26) with four runs scored, three RBIs and one stolen base.

Alec Aleywine (Gulf Coast Community College) and Jake Washer (East Carolina University) have 11 RBIs each and a combined three homers. Aleywine also has three stolen bases.

Cole said that the Rebels had some players arrive late to start the season, which was part of the reason they started off 0-3. Since then they have won five of their last seven games.

“We were missing some guys and as they started to roll into town we started to pick it up offensively,” Cole said. “We feel good about where we’re at right now. And hopefully we can just keep it rolling with what we’ve got right now.”

Cole said the pitching hasn’t been what he was expecting. The Rebels had two pitchers suffer injuries and Cole said he’s had to switch some guys around.

“That’s kind of hindered us more than anything having to use guys in a little bit different roles than what you envisioned them being in,” Cole said. “But we’ll clean those things up and those guys we’ll get healthy — it’s nothing major. And then once we get everybody healthy I think we’ll be good.”

One of the bright spots for New Market’s pitching has been the performance of Nate Pawelczyk (Winthrop University). Pawelczyk is the only returner from last year’s team.

Pawelczyk has pitched 10 innings, allowing no earned runs and just four hits with 12 strikeouts.

“He was a guy that got to us last year and really just got better and better as the summer went on,” Cole said. “And then went back to school and just continues to do that.”

Cole said Pawelczyk is one of several pitchers who threw a lot for their colleges this year, and will mostly work out of the bullpen so that they don’t overuse them. He said they will have probably three regular starters and then rotate several other guys for spot starts to keep everyone fresh.

Cole said that they are still expecting around five more players to arrive, and once they get everyone in New Market he thinks he will have a solid team.

Pawelczyk is one of four Winthrop players on the squad, along with pitcher Carson Gregory, catcher Alex Raines and outfielder Hunter Lipscomb. Cole said Pawelczyk has been a good leader for the team.

“Nate’s kind of got an infectious personality,” Cole said. “With him being the returning guy, he’s eased the transition, not only for his (Winthrop) teammates, but some of the other guys on the team.”

Cole is in his second season at New Market. He said Joe Lapore is also back as one of his assistant coaches. Cole said having the experience of last year has helped this season.

“We were both excited to be back here,” Cole said. “You just build good relationships and you get to know people in the community and you get to know the host families. And it’s a lot easier the second time around because you’re not feeling everything out. You kind of know what to expect and how the league is. You know the umpires and the fields.

“New Market has great people and were fortunate enough to come back and be a part of what they’re doing here.”