COA needs to get going in conference

By Chic Riebel

The Daily Advance

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Statistically, the College of The Albemarle baseball team has improved in several key areas over last year.

The Dolphins’ team batting average is up from .296 to .301, the team ERA has plunged from 6.04 to 3.99.

But despite the stat gains, COA is faring more poorly in conference games this time around.

Last year’s Dolphins, who finished 22-21 overall, were 13-12 against Region X competition. This year’s 15-12 team is limping along at 4-7 in the conference.

COA coach Norbie Wilson thinks the schedule has something to do with the discrepancy.

“We’ve played most of the top teams in the conference already,” said Wilson, whose Dolphins will host conference doubleheaders against Rockingham CC (13-17, 1-10) and Patrick Henry CC (19-10, 6-7) Saturday and Sunday at Knobbs Creek. “We’ve lost (two out of three) to Brunswick, and they are No. 1 in the conference. We lost (three) to Southeastern, the No. 2 team, and we’ve lost (twice) to Catawba, the No. 4. Those are some pretty good teams.

“But this weekend, we’ll be playing teams more around us, so it’s a big weekend for us if we want to get back to the playoffs this year.”

Last spring, the fledgling Dolphins surprised by making the eight-team Region X tournament, then finishing fourth.

But they’re likely going to need a winning conference record to make the field this season.

Wilson is confident that can still happen.

“We just have to play with more consistency,” he said. “We’ve been pitching well in spots. We’ve been hitting well in spots. We’ve shown flashes that we can be a real good team.

“But we’ve also had lapses where we don’t look like a real good team and that’s frustrating.”

Many Dolphins are having pretty good seasons individually, particularly infielder Jake Stone and pitcher/first baseman Eddie Perkins, who were first- and second-team all-region picks last year.

Stone is replicating a 2010 campaign that had him in the conversation for conference player of the year. He leads Region X in RBIs with 34, is second in homers with six and his .477 batting average is third.

Perkins has dazzled on the mound and at the plate. As a pitcher, he has a 7-3 record with an ERA of 2.25 and he’s fanned 69 batters in 56 innings. Perkins’ .344 batting average is second-highest on the team.

Other notable numbers are being turned in by Ross Jarzynka (3-2 record, 3.27 ERA), Lawrence Academy’s Jonathan Brantley (2-2, 3.69), Josh Pryor (.324, 17 RBIs), Perquimans graduate Robert Jacot (.321), First Flight grad J.J. Allen (.299, 21 RBIs) and Ross Cardwell (.277, but red-hot of late).

While Wilson wants to make the playoffs, his personal agenda to ensure the team’s 14 sophomores get their chance to show they can play at a four-year school means that the Dolphins’ best eight position players are not always on the field at the same time.

“I don’t think that interferes,” Wilson said. “There’s really not much difference between some of our players anyway.”