Hitting The Diamond
2018 Baseball Outlook: Many area teams present youthful lineups
Baseball Season Outlook
By Craig Moyer
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Last season, five of the six area baseball teams made a trip to the state playoffs, highlighted by John A. Holmes winning the 2A state title.
As the teams return to the diamond for the 2018 season, they will all be looking for contributions from young players to replace a talented graduating class from last season.
12 of the 13 players named to last season’s All-Area team were seniors, as teams will look to replace some of their top players on the mound and at the plate.
Northeastern and Currituck will look to battle First Flight for a Northeastern Coastal Conference title after the departure of Edenton from the league.
Meanwhile, the Aces will look to continue their winning ways in the newly formed Albemarle Athletic conference, which should be highly-competitive this season.
Here is a closer look at the area teams:
Head coach: Hunter Lowe
Last season’s record: (14-10, 13-3 Coastal 10 Conference)
Outlook: The Bruins will have to replace their best pitcher in Alex Aydlett and best hitter in Drew Latham, both of whom were selected to the All-Area team as seniors in 2017.
Dallas Trevena, one of three seniors on this season’s team, will likely be a leader for Camden on the mound and at the plate this year.
Trevena picked up the win in the Bruins’ 12-2 win over Pasquotank Feb. 28, pitching five innings and surrendering just two runs.
The Bruins will rely on a young lineup, with nine sophomores and two freshmen on their 15-player roster.
Reed Griffith was one of the Bruins’ contributors at the plate last season and will look to be an offensive leader this season.
Griffith also went 5-1 on the mound last season and will look to help the Bruins’ pitching staff, which lost a pair of their strongest arms from last season’s team.
Head coach: Justin Hill
Last season’s record: (16-9, 7-5 Northeastern Coastal Conference)
Outlook: While Currituck will look for new contributions at the plate, pitching will certainly be a strong suit for the Knights this season as they look to compete for an Northeastern Coastal Conference title.
The team will be without their top six statistical batters from last season, including their three All-Area selections, Shane Davis, Ryan Edwards and Austin Capps.
The experience the Knights lack at the plate, they make up for on the mound, with four pitchers on this season’s team with varsity experience.
Currituck’s pitching will be led by a pair of North Carolina State commits in Austin Pace and Cannon Pickell.
Will Langley and Cole Bates will also contribute on the mound for the Knights.
Head coach Justin Hill said he expects his team to improve as the season progresses and his young players learn their roles.
The Knights are the only area team that has not played yet this season, as they begin their season Wednesday on the road against Gates County.
Head coach: Bob Jordan
Last season’s record: (28-3, 12-0 Northeastern Coastal Conference)
Outlook: The Aces lose their three top pitchers and several of their top hitters off last season’s 2A state championship team, as they will look to their four returning starters and several new players to lead them to success in their first season as a member of the Albemarle Athletic Conference.
Edenton will look to fill the void of losing nine seniors, including All-Area players Patrick Downum, Dylan Patrick and Matt Benfield, as the three combined to pitch 188 of 209 innings for the team last season.
The team does return the only non-senior from last season’s All-Area team, shortstop Ben Ward, who led the team last year with 34 runs scored.
Jaden Bobbitt, Harrison Powell and Chace Kelley all return after being contributors last season.
The AAC will likely be a highly competitive conference this season, as the Aces will have to battle perennially tough opponents including last season’s Coastal 10 champions Perquimans, along with Manteo and Camden.
Head coach Bob Jordan said his young team is working hard every day to improve as a team.
The head coach noted he expects his team to grow and improve as the season progresses, but the Aces showed they are still a strong team this season with their performance in their first game of the season.
Despite falling 7-6 in 12 innings, Edenton went toe to toe with a Bear Grass Charter team that returns several key players from last season’s team that went 23-4 and advanced to the east regional semifinals, where they were defeated by eventual state champion Whiteville.
Head coach: Tray Scott
Last season’s record: (9-12, 7-5 Northeastern Coastal Conference)
Outlook: The Eagles have the most varsity experience of any team in the area this season, as they return seven starters from last season’s team that made a trip to the 2A state playoffs.
While Northeastern will have to replace their two All-Area selections from last season in Noah Cartwright and Reed Haskett, they do return honorable mention selection Justin Winslow.
While Cartwright and Haskett were leaders offensively last season, Winslow finished the year with 13 runs and seven RBIs.
Northeastern has seven seniors on this season’s team, but will also look to contributions from three juniors and sophomores Tucker Oliver and Colin Riddick.
Riddick picked up the win on the mound for the Eagles in their opener against Perquimans, while driving in two runs at the plate and Oliver had a strong showing in relief on the mound.
Scott said the team has the best senior leadership and work ethic of any team in his six-year tenure with Northeastern.
Head coach: Brandon Matthews
Last season’s record: (1-20, 1-11 Northeastern Coastal Conference)
Outlook: After winning only one game last season, the Panthers will look to improve this season under first-year head coach Brandon Matthews.
Pasquotank also had one of the smallest senior classes last season, graduating just two seniors, but still has a young roster with six freshmen and three sophomores.
Their two seniors last season, Lance Sharber and Ashton Felts, were two of their leaders at the plate, so the team will need to find offense from new contributors.
David Thompson, John McCole and Jonathan Lamberson could be a few of the players who step up for the Panthers offensively.
Lamberson will also lead the Panthers on the mound, as one of the team’s more experienced pitchers.
Head coach: Justin Roberson
Last season’s record: (22-5, 14-2 Coastal 10 Conference)
Outlook: Last season’s regular season Coastal 10 champions will look to build on their strong season in 2017 and return to the state playoffs, but will have to do so with just three returning starters.
The Pirates will be without Blake Jordan and Wes Phthisic, their two All-Area members last season, but return Devin Mathis and Mason Votava, who were both named honorable mention All-Area.
Mathis will look to lead the team on the mound, while Votava will be a factor for Perquimans at the plate and on the infield.
While Perquimans has a new look this season, they will still look to contend for a title in the first season in the newly formed AAC.
Perquimans will not field a junior-varsity team this season, so all 19 players who came out to play are on the varsity roster.
Head coach Justin Roberson said without a JV team, the competition level for playing time on the varsity team will be even higher this year.
Roberson noted that his team has a lot of talent, but many of his players do not have varsity experience.