NEW MARKET - Nolan Potts is in his first year as the manager of the New Market Shockers, but the new head coach isn’t completely unsure of what to expect.
“I had to fill in for Chris [Rush] a couple times last year so it’s not completely unfamiliar territory and I’ve been a JV head coach at a high school for three years. So the coaching side of it’s not new,” Potts said.
While he knows how to handle coaching baseball, there’s a lot more that comes with the job that he was not aware of.
“It’s been a little different this year as far as the behind the scenes stuff that’s going on because in the past I would just help with bringing guys in and help Chris make a lineup and now I’m on the financial side of things and knowing the bylaws and getting all that stuff squared away for the season,” Potts said.
Despite the new tasks that come with being a manager, Potts is ready to take on the challenge of leading the Shockers into the 2019 season.
“I’m excited. When Chris went to Montezuma and Lisa offered me the job I couldn’t say no,” he said. “I think we’ve done a lot of good things at New Market the last couple years.”
Coming off their first ever Eastern Division championship, the Shockers are bringing back most of their core players for this season. They’re expecting guys like Pat Wingfield, Nate Jaye, Robbie Marcell, Ty Bennett and more to return to the field and make an impact again. They’ve also brought back Nick Goode, who was the Shockers’ lone All-RCBL team member in 2018. Goode hit .465 with four home runs and 20 RBIs last season, finishing second in MVP voting.
New Market has featured plenty of players from Shenandoah University over the past couple of seasons, and this year is no different. The only downfall of that is the fact that Shenandoah is currently playing in the NCAA Tournament, and the RCBL season starts this weekend.
“We’re starting the year shorthanded because a lot of the Shenandoah guys are dressing and they’re going to a NCAA regional this weekend,” Potts said. “As far as starting the year off, Saturday and Sunday we’re not gonna be at full strength.”
Once Shenandoah wraps up its postseason, Potts expects the players that will be joining the Shockers to make an immediate difference and help the team repeat the success of last season.
“We’re hoping once hopefully Shenandoah goes all the way - wins a national championship, that would be nice - once we get those guys back and we get to full strength around the beginning of June, we’ll be able to make some noise cause I think we’ve got a lot of talent this year compared to years past” Potts said.
The league got rid of the divisions format for the 2019 season, so New Market will have to work even harder to have a successful season. Part of the formula for building the team into a contender is bringing in a lot of arms on the mound.
“One of the things we’ve struggled with the last couple of years is finding guys who can consistently throw strikes,” Potts said. “I brought in a bunch of guys who are gonna get an opportunity to compete and show that they can pitch in this league as far as consistently getting the ball over the plate and getting guys out.”
Potts hopes to find the right combination of pitchers to make New Market a threat in the league, and he thinks the Shockers are close to being where they want to be.
“I think we’ve been real close to turning the corner as far as you know being one of the powers of the league, competing with the Clover Hills and the Bridgewaters of the world,” Potts said. “And I’m hoping this year is the year we finally hit our stride and consistently put a good season together.” New Market begins its season this Saturday at home against Broadway. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m. at Rebel Field.