Prep Signing: West Rowan’s Evans going to Carson-Newman
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — Left-hander Justin Evans hasn’t been pitching much lately for West Rowan.
And there’s a reason.
“I definitely like us defensively with him at first,” said Falcons coach Chad Parker, who has few other options at the position.
Evans will pitch in college next year, however.
And there’s a reason.
Carson-Newman pitching coach Blake Herring, who held the same position at Louisburg College from 2008-11, liked what he saw when Evans played Showcase ball back in September.
“He liked me,” smiled Evans, who signed with the Eagles. “He liked how I throw all three of my pitches (fastball, changeup and curveball) for strikes on any count and he liked how my mechanics were real smooth.”
Evans has made the most of his starts. He enters today’s first round of the North Piedmont Conference tournament with a 5-1 record.
“He has done well in his opportunities to pitch,” Parker said. “There are still opportunities. Our goal is to make the finals of the conference tournament (Friday) and we’re going to need him to pitch at some point.”
But right now, hitting and defense is what West Rowan needs from its senior leader.
Evans admits his offensive numbers aren’t what they were last year when he hit .400. Currently, he’s hovering around .300 and has 12 RBIs.
“It’s not as good as last year, but it’s still there,” he said of his hitting.
The bat’s good enough to perhaps get a few swings in up in Jefferson City, Tenn.
“Right now, they want me just as a pitcher,” Evans said, “but they’re going to look at my swing, too.”
Evans got off to a good start this season, knocking in three runs against Mount Pleasant. In his next game, a 4-3 win over Mooresville, he pitched the victory and had two RBIs.
He won against 4A Mount Tabor and league rival North Iredell. Considering West needed to have the tiebreaker over the Raiders to secure a spot in the 3A playoffs, that pitching victory was huge.
Parker sees no reason Evans can’t succeed as a South Atlantic Conference pitcher.
“I think if he works, he can find himself in the lineup,” Parker said. “He has matured over the past four years. He has tried to improve his body and work ethic — and that has translated into an opportunity at the next level.”
Firming up was the biggest thing on Herring’s mind.
“He told me he wanted me to lose nine pounds,” said Evans, who, at last report, had dropped 12.
When Herring first saw Evans, he wanted him to come work out. When he asked Evans to stay overnight, a scholarship offer was obviously right around the corner.
“I just loved it,” Evans said after making the four-hour-plus trip to Mossy Creek “When I was up there, it was more like a family than just a team. They were pretty much brothers. I need that going so far away.”
Evans hopes to play for Jim Gantt’s Rowan Legion this summer.
“I really need to be playing every day and that’s what Legion will provide for me,” he said.
Legion could help him provide Carson-Newman with what it wants — a quality left arm that can be dangerous. The Eagles might need him quickly after finishing 22-27 this season.
“College will be a lot different,” Evans said. “If I work hard enough I’ll be out there.”
But first things first.
Before his arm stands out in college, his bat is needed now for a West Rowan postseason run.
“Justin is the kind of kid who, if he gets hot, the team can jump on his back,” Parker said.