Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The new skipper for the Green Wave baseball program knows he has a lot to work with.
Banks Faulkner has fulfilled his obligations to Lexington High School, where he served as a teacher and pitching coach this spring. With his focus now on Summerville, the new Green Wave head coach will spend the summer putting the pieces together for what he hopes will be a championship program.
“This was a good fit for me,” Faulkner said. “I wasn’t looking to bolt out of Lexington. That was home and I was happy there, but as a competitor this position appeals to me. It’s not that I just wanted to be a head coach. I wanted to go somewhere that was a special situation and this is. I think this program is a sleeping giant. It has been successful but it is ready to be pushed to that next level. We want to play deeper into May.”
Faulkner replaces Alan Bridges, who served as the Wave’s head baseball coach for only one season while a search for a coach was conducted. Prior to Bridges, the position had only seen one change since 1970 when in the mid-80s Burt Bazzle took the reigns from Pinky Guerard. Between them, those coaches led Summerville to four state championships but the last one came in 2003.
Faulkner only has one season under his belt as a head coach, one he spent at Wando. However, as an assistant/pitching coach, he helped both Lexington and Gilbert teams to state titles. He also coached at Walhalla and Blythewood high schools.
As an athlete, Faulkner helped Lexington claim a state championship his senior year (1999). From there he went to Erskine College where he played two seasons. After having Tommy John surgery he gave up playing and transferred to Clemson where he earned an education degree.
Some of the coaches who were already part of the Green Wave program will remain on staff, but Faulkner also plans to bring in some new faces.
“It wouldn’t feel like a new program if I were the only new coach,” he said. “I want to bring in some guys who I’ve worked with before and some guys from the community.”
The coach should have several starters back, including some highly recruited athletes and two of its top pitchers. Those expected to return include pitcher Sawyer Bridges, who has verbally committed to Clemson, and outfielder TJ Hopkins, who has verbally committed to South Carolina.
“I think the challenge is going to be how quick can these kids get comfortable playing in a new system,” Faulkner said. “It will be different for them but I’m excited because they are talented kids who have a lot of physical tools and they are blue-collar kids which are the type of athletes I enjoy coaching.”
Bridges and Charlie Fessler should give the Wave a powerful one-two pitching punch next season. Faulkner says if some of the team’s other pitchers continue to develop and Summerville plays solid defense the team should do well.
“If you have two top-tier arms you can do well in the playoffs but really you need three or four reliable arms,” Faulkner said. “We have some guys who should be able to help us out but we have to find the right spots for them and help them develop. I think we also need to do a better job in the field because good pitching isn’t enough.”
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