The Bethlehem Christian Academy baseball team has its eyes on a new season with a new coach.

Michael DeSantis was hired in recent weeks to take over leadership of the Diamond Knights and official preseason practice is ongoing for the Friday, Feb. 28, season opener against Augusta Prep.

“There is a ton of potential at BCA,” DeSantis said. “The kids are willing to work hard and willing to be held accountable. They need that approach because it will help us be successful.”

DeSantis was hired following a coaching search that lasted approximately six months. School officials dismissed former coach Matt Nicks, who guided the Knights to the state playoffs in each of his four seasons as head coach.

Like most area high school baseball teams, one of the biggest challenges facing BCA during preseason work has been the weather. With a young team set to take the field for 2020, DeSantis said all practices are valuable.

“We will have several sophomores and even some freshmen in the starting lineup,” the new coach said. “The potential is definitely there. Our middle school program is strong. We are on the right road to be successful.”

The program is certainly not at rock bottom, having qualified for the state playoffs each year Nicks was head coach. DeSantis said he wants the team to return to a championship form similar to the early years of the program.

BCA competed against Lake Oconee Academy in a preseason scrimmage, and despite losing DeSantis saw some positives.

“We showed some good things,” he said. “We pitched well. Right now we still have several players competing for the basketball team. We will set our starting lineup once everyone is here.”

The transition has gone relatively smoothly, according to DeSantis.

“The players have bought in pretty fast,” he said. “My job is not only to coach baseball to the players but to help prepare them for college. We will hold our players to a high standard. The players know I am going to go to bat for them in all areas, not just on the baseball field.”

All high school age players will dress for varsity games although some will also compete in junior varsity contests.

DeSantis was a two-year starter at Southeastern Community College in Iowa, playing center field and hitting leadoff and helping lead his team to the Junior College World Series his sophomore year. He then transferred to Georgetown University and played right field. He graduated from Georgetown with an exercise science degree and worked there as a graduate assistant on the baseball team.

The new BCA coach was most recently head coach at North Rowan High School in Spencer, N.C. and was on the board of the local Cal Ripken Little League. He graduated from West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., where he was an all-county star and played in the Florida All-State Game.

“I am blessed to be at BCA,” DeSantis said.

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