Rudisill new War Eagles baseball coach

Published 11:45 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

Davie’s new varsity baseball coach appears to be a classic bundle of energy, a baseball addict who possesses considerably more experience than your typical 29 year old.

Bradley Rudisill has replaced Bobby Byerly, who was assistant athletic director/baseball coach for six years. Byerly left Davie Sept. 17 to work at Uwharrie Ridge Middle School in Randolph County.

Rudisill’s first day at Davie was set for Oct. 16. He will teach weight training and health/PE. He has one year under his belt as head varsity coach, and it was a golden one, leading South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) to a region championship last spring. (Regions in South Carolina are the equivalent to conferences in North Carolina.)

The problem at South Pointe: Rudisill was driving an hour and a half each way from his home in Catawba.

“My decision was based off of family,” Rudisill said. “It’s a 30-minute drive from Catawba to (Mocksville). My girlfriend lives in High Point, so with me being in Rock Hill it just wasn’t conducive, enough though we had a very good team.”

Rudisill was a four-year varsity player for Bandys High from 2004-07. He helped the Trojans win four conference championships.

“We had really solid teams,” he said.

During his career at Bandys, he played third base, shortstop and second base, “depending on who was pitching,” he said. “I also pitched a little bit. I think I had five wins in four years.”

Rudisill wasn’t a fixture in the lineup because he was enormously talented. He was always a gym rat, a guy whose motor was always running. His determination and deep love for the game carried him to the Division-I level as a walk on.

“I worked at it,” he said. “I might not have been the biggest guy on the field – I’m 5-foot-9 and at that point I was 130 pounds soak and wet – but I was always going to be the guy who left the field the dirtiest. I feel like I played the game the right way.”

In 2005 when Rudisill was a sophomore, the 2-A Trojans met top-ranked West Henderson in the second round. They won in walk-off fashion. They would roar into the fourth round.

“West Henderson was the gold standard at that time of what baseball was,” he said. “It was West Henderson and East Rutherford.”

In Rudisill’s senior year in 2007, the Trojans made it four straight conference titles by capturing a 2-A/3-A league.

“It was a really tough conference,” he said. “We were a smaller 2-A school playing against teams that have baseball traditions. Fred T. Foard had three guys that ended up getting drafted out of college. I think that prepared me when I went on and played in college.”

Bandys soared into the 2007 playoffs, boasting 21 wins and drawing an 11-13 wild card (Salisbury) in the first round. Something completely unexpected happened: The Hornets knocked off the No. 1 team in 2-A.

Salisbury jumped ahead 4-0 in the top of the first, made it to 5-0 in the second and took an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Bandys staged a furious rally to tie things at 8 and force extra innings, but Salisbury prevailed 9-8 in eight. Three Hornets clubbed their first homers of the season in the 25th game. They beat Brevard in the second round, but they were smothered by East Rutherford in the third round.

Rudisill played junior college ball at Rockingham for two years, making the All-Region X team. He couldn’t imagine college life without baseball and looked to latch on somewhere as a transfer.

“I didn’t have a ton of offers,” he said. “Lenoir-Rhyne, Guilford and Greensboro College offered me.”

Then-Appalachian State coach Chris Pollard, who is currently the head man at Duke, saw Rudisill play in the summer of 2009. That was the break he needed.

“He straight up told me: ‘You’re probably never going to play. But with your competitiveness, you’re going to push guys,’” he said.

Rudisill walked on at App. He played on two good teams as the Mountaineers went 38-18 in 2010 and 33-27 in 2011.

“I never played in a game,” he said. “Even though I didn’t travel, I was very fortunate to be apart of a team that went to the regional (in 2010). I practiced with them, took BP with them, did everything with them.

“I did exactly what (Pollard) said. “I learned more from that guy than anybody ever just from being around him. I learned practice planning, organization and how to deal with people.”

After graduating from App in 2013, he hooked up with then-Watauga coach Pete Hardee and was a Pioneers’ assistant for three years (2011-13). He also got his coaching feet wet by guiding the Watauga Junior Legion team for three years.

“The smartest decision I ever made was going to talk to Pete and getting on his staff,” he said. “Pete is getting inducted into the North Carolina High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December.”

Rudisill returned home in 2013 and was the Bandys JV coach for two years. He moved to the college level in 2016, serving as pitching coach/recruiting coordinator at Montreat. That lasted one year.

“The guy that had hired me resigned,” he said. “They wanted to bring me back but only as a volunteer assistant.”

He declined the offer and came back to Bandys, coaching the junior varsity in 2017. “I rolled back into my old job,” he said.

The opportunity to be a varsity coach soon developed, and that’s how Rudisill landed at South Pointe in Rock Hill. He inherited two seniors. He started three freshmen in the outfield. He even suited up eighth graders. The young Stallions were undaunted, going 14-6 and winning the six-team, 4-A league.

“In South Carolina you can play eighth graders on your varsity, and I ended up having two eighth graders on the varsity,” he said. “I was blessed to walk in and have one of the best pitchers in the state, Ty Good (a current senior who has committed to the College of Charleston). He had 98 strikeouts in 51 innings and didn’t even throw against the bottom two teams in the region.

“Our non-region schedule was very tough. We played Rock Hill, who got up to 12th in the nation. They were coming off a state championship and returned four Division-I pitchers, (including) two who are going to South Carolina. We played Northwestern and Georgia Premier Academy. We faced the No. 1 pitcher in the 2019 class, Daniel Espino. He was 96-98 (mph). We didn’t touch him, but we saw the best of the best.”

Then the Davie opening caught his eye.

“If you had asked me five years ago when I graduated, give me five schools that you’d like to end up at, Davie County was on that list,” he said. “Being at Watauga, we always played Davie. I love the way the kids from Davie always played. They were always hard-nosed, blue-collar type players who got after it. It was just something about it that appealed to me.

“It’s one of those dream jobs and it’s happening now. With the new school and new facilities, it’s a great time to be coming to Davie.”

Rudisill will have his work cut out, although he likes what he’s seen and heard about in regard to talent in the program. The War Eagles have suffered back-to-back losing seasons; they have one winning season in five years; they finished fifth and fourth in the conference in 2017-18; and they’ve managed one state playoff win in six years.

“I know our region (at South Pointe) wasn’t as strong as what I’m coming in to, but I’m also excited to have to really get a game plan ready,” he said. “Everybody has a dude in the CPC. I would say 100 percent it is the hardest 4-A conference in the state, rivaling up there with the Charlotte conference (South Meck 7) with South Meck, Ardrey Kell and Providence. I mean there’s no gimmes in the CPC.”

Rudisill’s first order of business is building a staff. Danny Allard is coming back. Jamey Holt is not returning in a full-time role. Ross Hoffner, who played at Davie from 2010-13, is a new addition.

“Jamey has young kids and he wants to be around them,” Rudisill said. “I told him I certainly understood that. He said he still wanted to be around as much as he could. He’s not really going to be on the staff. I have hired Ross Hoffner.”