Power supply gone, pitching returns

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A state-tournament qualifier last season, Wayne County Post 11 isn’t sure if it can produce an “encore” campaign on the baseball diamond in 2022.

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

That group generated more than 80% of Post 11’s offense. 

“We lost a lot of bats,” said fifth-year WC head coach Adam Pate. “Our offensive production was loaded toward the top of our lineup. But, I feel like we’ve got a pretty good mix [of players]. We went out and got some speed, some older kids.

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

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

Post 11 returns just two full-time starters — utility standout Davis Albert and catcher Drew Spencer. Albert batted .367 a year ago, while Spencer hit .273 and was among the team leaders in RBI with 23.

Pate will depend on five college freshmen and a bullpen of experienced pitchers to keep Post 11 in Area I East title contention this summer. His top three hurlers are back — Will Pennington, Carson Gipson and Braeden Collins.

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

The team ERA was 4.04.

“The arms we have coming back is what is encouraging to us,” Pate said. “We’ve had a core group the past several summers and although part of that core keeps leaving, we’ve been able to establish a youth core as well. Experience is huge in Legion ball.

“We need to utilize our pitching depth. Obviously guys have slumps on the mound and plate, injuries happen. If guys can throw strikes and stay healthy, that can be one of our strongest points this summer.”

Area I loses a postseason berth in 2022.

Fuquay-Varina, the reigning state champ and 2021 Mid-Atlantic Regional runner-up, receives an automatic playoff bid since it will play host to the state tournament.

Pate’s team will have to navigate through the always-difficult East that includes long-time rivals Pitt County and Kinston. Ahoskie and newcomer Plymouth round out the five-team division.

Wilson Post 13 moved to the West.

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

“We’ve got a ton of work to do in our division, but [returning to states] is our main goal,” Pate said. “We’ve got a great group of kids, lot of returners on the team who knows what it takes to grind out a summer, but enjoy being around each other and playing for each other.”

2022 Wayne County Post 11

Roster

0 - Nate Smith (Midway)

1 - Carter Gipson (C.B. 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 (SW)

16 - Dalton Smith (CBA)

17 - Landon Sutton (EW)

18 - Andrew Crumpler (EW)

19 - Logan Merritt (LCC)

21 - Cohen Waddell (WCDS)

22 - Alex Ferrell (SW)

23 - Carson Gipson (CBA)

33 - Richard Noble (SW)

36 - Drew Spencer (WCDS)

37 - Anderson Clucas (RHS)

39 - Grey Gurganus (LCC)

42 - Tyler Thompson (LCC)

48 - Erik Rosas (N. Duplin)

2022 Wayne County Post 11 Schedule

(Subject to change)

May 24 vs. Plymouth*

May 26 at Kinston**

May 30 vs. Pitt**

May 31 vs. Hamlet

June 2 vs. Wilson

June 3 at Louisburg

June 5 at Ahoskie*

June 6 vs. Louisburg

June 7 vs. Plymouth*

June 8 at Fuquay-Varina

June 9 at Durham

June 10 at Cleveland Co.

June 11 vs. Randolph Co.***

June 11 at Cherryville

June 12 vs. TBD***

June 15 vs. Wilmington****

June 17 at Murrells Inlet (SC)

June 18 at Chillicothe

June 18 at Frederick

June 19 at Florence SC

June 22 vs. Pitt*

June 23 at Fuquay-Varina*****

June 26 vs. Ahoskie*

June 26 vs. Kinston*

June 28 vs. Pitt*

June 30 vs. Kinston*

July 1 at Wilson

* – East Division

** – Non-division

*** – at Cherryville

**** – at UMO

***** – at Garner HS

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