Prep Baseball: Tournaments crank up
By Mike London
The postseason begins tonight for many area baseball teams with first-round conference tournament games.
Games tonight include South Davidson at North Rowan in the YVC; West Rowan at Carson and North Iredell at South Rowan in the NPC, and A.L. Brown at Northwest Cabarrus in the SPC.
East Rowan has a first-round bye and plays Wednesday. Davie (19-2), one of the teams to watch in 4A, opens play in the CPC tourney on Wednesday.
Westís season ends tonight if it doesnít upset Carson. The Cougars squeaked by the Falcons 6-5 and 5-4 in the two regular-season meetings, so itís not like West canít win, even with the disparity in the teamís records. Carson is 15-7, while West is 4-19.
While league tournaments are generally played for pride, bragging rights, trophies and dollars, theyíll also sort out the seeding for the state playoffs. As is always the case, any darkhorse team that emerges with a tournament title moves all the way up to the leagueís No. 2 seed for the state playoffs.
Carson, which has won 13 of 16, and West Iredell enter the NPC tournament tied for second. The NPCís No. 2 team is at home in the first round of the playoffs, while No. 3 hits the road, so how things shake out between those two will be worth watching. If brackets donít get busted, theyíll square off head-to-head in a semifinal on Wednesday night.
North Rowan enters the YVC tournament tied with South Stanly for the top spot. If the brackets hold, theyíll meet head-to-head in the tournament championship game on Thursday night to decide the No. 1 playoff seed.
Thereís actually quite a bit riding on the SPC tournament. While Northwest Cabarrus is assured the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, Mount Pleasant enters the event tied with Robinson for third, while Cox Mill goes into the tourney tied for fifth with Central Cabarrus. The SPC will send five teams to the playoffs.
n Fans are wondering out loud if any Rowan team has the horses to make a serious run in the state playoffs. A lot of folks are pulling out lawn chairs for American Legion ball already, but that may be premature. Itís not time to put the prep season to bed quite yet. Thereís a reasonable chance that thereís some excitement coming.
From whom, you ask?
Well, North (18-5) has a heck of a team for 1A. East (16-7) is East, despite some unexpected losses. The defending 3A champs have made it at least to the state semis three straight seasons.
Carson, assuming shortstop Gunnar Hogan is healthy, is deep enough to make some noise.
While itís generally been considered a down year for the county, East did win another conference title, while North shared its first league crown since 2006. Not sure how many people noticed, but the streaking Cavaliers won their last 12 YVC games to catch up with South Stanly. Quite a run.
Carson tied for second in the NPC. South and Salisbury had to steer through some rough patches, but both will be in the playoffs.
Salisbury (11-9) could still finish second in the CCC, depending on how things go in Tuesdayís regular-season finales. The CCC tournament begins Thursday.
n Last weekendís 4-8 showing in the F&M Bank Classic by Rowanís four 3A teams against a quartet of Cabarrus rivals wasnít pretty, but it wasnít unexpected.
Northwest Cabarrus and Mount Pleasant are really talented. Those two schools have five Division I signees or commitments between them, and thatís five more than the NPC has.
People who follow Cabarrus baseball also know that Robinsonís Brody Koerner, a Clemson commitment, is the most highly regarded pitcher in the area.
Rowan went 4-8 at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium mostly because East went 1-2, while A.L. Brown, which was supposed to be the only weak Cabarrus entry, won twice. South went 0-3, even though the Raiders werenít far from 3-0.