By Erik Harris
TRUSSVILLE — It wasn’t a sudden, unexpected move.
Hewitt-Trussville head baseball coach Jeff Mauldin and his senior shortstop Carter Pharis had discussions about relocating him on the diamond throughout the summer.
Even so, Pharis was taken aback by the site of Mauldin’s lineup card on Opening Day. Dating back to his park ball days, the senior had looked down the order to see his name linked to shortstop every time out.
But in February, he was introduced over the loud speaker at Phil English Field and for the first time of his baseball plying days, he didn’t run to his worn-in spot beside second base. Instead, he pulled up short and began shuffling the dirt around in his new position – third base.
“Always played shortstop my whole life, so I don’t think I’ve played anywhere else but there,” Pharis said. “I saw (the lineup) and was like, ‘Whatever’s best for the team.’”
The senior is still getting accustomed to the new ground he’s been asked to cover, but he and Mauldin see a future for him at the hot corner.
“I feel like that will be my position in the future, but at the same time, I think I can play shortstop,” Pharis said.
Despite being more than proven as an elite shortstop, Pharis felt no animosity as he stepped away from a position in which he was so deeply rooted. He just wanted to help his team.
As a junior shortstop for the Huskies, he worked his way on to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s All-State team with a record-setting campaign.
Pharis called for a rewrite of the Hewitt-Trussville record book with 33 stolen bases, 49 runs scored, 38 walks and 81 assists (all single-season school records) in 2014. He also swung the stick for a .372 average with 33 runs batted in, 10 doubles and a pair of deep balls.
That stat sheet demanded attention from college programs. He marked his name down with UAB three months prior to his senior season. Now, more than 20 games deep on his new dirt, Pharis is feeling “comfortable.”
Fellow infielder Tyler Tolbert sees his teammate’s position change as more than just a comfortable situation.
“It looks like Carter’s been playing (third base) for his whole life,” Tolbert said. “Carter’s a natural athlete.”
Since the move was made, Mauldin has shuffled things around a bit. Initially, the third-year head coach went with Tolbert at shortstop. After seeing that for a while, Mauldin swapped Tolbert and freshman Ed Johnson, who started the year at second base, in time for Class 7A, Area 6 play.
As a whole, the infield seems to embrace each position change as an opportunity to get better as an individual, and as a team.
“When I got the move, it didn’t affect me at all, because everything that (Mauldin) does is going to help benefit the team and we’re going to win more games,” Tolbert said. “I was fine with the move.”