Power is gone, pitch is back

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By RUDY COGGINS
Deputy Editor

Qualifying for the state tournament last season, Wayne County Post 11 isn’t sure he can produce an “again” campaign on the baseball field in 2022.

Nine of the team’s top 13 hitters moved up to the collegiate ranks.

This group generated over 80% of Post 11’s offense.

“We lost a lot of sticks,” fifth-year World Championship head coach Adam Pate said. “Our offensive production has been loaded to the top of our lineup. But, I feel like we got a pretty good mix [of players]. We went out and picked up speed, older kids.

“We are excited about what they can bring to the table.”

Wayne County, which opened the season against Plymouth on Tuesday, has a roster that stretches from Pikeville to Spivey’s Corner. Six players from Johnston, Duplin and Sampson counties join a talented core of Wayne County players.

Position 11 returns only two full-time starters – utility standout Davis Albert and receiver Drew Spencer. Albert hit .367 a year ago, while Spencer hit .273 and was among the RBI team leaders with 23.

Pate will depend on five freshmen and a bullpen of experienced pitchers to hold No. 11 in the Zone I East title chase this summer. His top three pitchers are back – Will Pennington, Carson Gipson and Braeden Collins.

Pennington recorded the best earned run average (ERA) on the team – a microscopic 0.78 in 36 innings. Gipson was just behind at 0.86. In 21 combined appearances on the mound, the duo recorded 72 strikeouts and produced a paltry seven earned runs.

The ERA team was 4.04.

“The guns we have back are what encourage us,” Pate said. “We’ve had a core group over the last few summers and while some of that core keeps leaving, we’ve also been able to establish a core of young people. The experience is enormous in the Legion Ball.

“We have to use our pitching depth. Obviously guys have sags on the mound and the plate, injuries happen. If the guys can throw strikes and stay healthy, that can be one of our highlights this summer.

Zone I loses a playoff spot in 2022.

Fuquay-Varina, the defending state champion and 2021 Mid-Atlantic regional runner-up, receives an automatic playoff offer since he will be hosting the state tournament.

Pate’s team will have to navigate through the ever-challenging East which includes longtime rivals Pitt County and Kinston. Ahoskie and newcomer Plymouth complete the five-team split.

Wilson Post 13 has moved West.

Post 11 will face out-of-state competition again in Myrtle Beach and travel to Cherryville Post 100, the senior Legion’s in-state powerhouse, for a two-day weekend tournament. These competitions should help develop the identity of the team.

“We have a ton of work to do in our division, but [returning to states] is our primary focus,” Pate said. “We have a great group of kids, lots of returning players who know what it takes to have a summer, but love being together and playing for each other.”

2022 Wayne County Post Office 11

Listing

0 – Nate Smith (Midway)

1 – Carter Gipson (CB Aycock)

2 – Davis Albert (W. Country Day)

3 – Braeden Collins (WCDS)

4 – Lane McLean (N. Johnston)

5 – Carter Aycock (N. Johnston)

6 – Mason Moffett (WCDS)

8 – Cullen Tucker (Lenoir CC)

10 – Connor Casey (Methodist)

11 – Daniel Weeks (E.Wayne)

13 – Drew Sweet (So Wayne)

15 – Will Pennington (SO)

16 – Dalton Smith (ABC)

17 – Landon Sutton (EO)

18 – Andrew Crumpler (EW)

19 – Logan Merritt (LCC)

21 – Cohen Waddell (WCDS)

22 – Alex Ferrell (SW)

23 – Carson Gipson (ABC)

33 – Richard Noble (SW)

36 – Drew Spencer (WCDS)

37 – Anderson Clucas (right)

39 – Gray Gurganus (LCC)

42 – Tyler Thompson (LCC)

48 – Erik Rosas (N. Duplin)

Wayne County Station 11 2022 Schedule

(Subject to change)

May 24 vs Plymouth*

May 26 in Kingston**

May 30 vs. Pitt**

May 31 vs. Hamlet

June 2 vs. Wilson

June 3 in Louisbourg

June 5 at Ahoskie*

June 6 against Louisbourg

June 7 vs Plymouth*

June 8 in Fuquay-Varina

June 9 in Durham

June 10 at Cleveland Co.

June 11 vs. Randolph Co.***

June 11 in Cherryville

June 12 c. To be determined***

June 15 c. Wilmington****

June 17 in Murrells Inlet (SC)

June 18 in Chillicothe

June 18 at Frederick

June 19 at Florence SC

June 22 vs. Pitt*

June 23 in Fuquay-Varina*****

June 26 vs. Ahoskie*

June 26 vs. Kingston*

June 28 vs. Pitt*

June 30 vs. Kingston*

July 1 at Wilson

* – Eastern Division

** – No division

*** – in Cherryville

**** – at UMO

***** – at Garner HS


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