All-County Baseball: The team

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2013

By Mike London

SALISBURY — If the all-county team had been based strictly on stats, you would be looking at about nine Carson Cougars and a half-dozen South Rowan Raiders right now.

That’s because Carson hit a robust .350 as a team, while South batted .330. West Rowan checked in under .300. North hit 269.

East Rowan, which faced a killer non-conference schedule, batted .264. Salisbury finished in the .250 range.

Still, when an 18-man all-county squad is assembled, the first order of business is to make it representative of the whole county. All six teams made the playoffs, so every team had standouts. It’s not like anyone went 2-22. The team breakdown ended up: Carson (5), South (4), Salisbury (3), East (2), West (2), North (2).

As is always the case, guys with strong cases didn’t make it. Carson’s K.J. Pressley was super defensively and among the leaders in runs scored and steals. He rarely bats, but West’s Michael Ball had six wins. South’s Jonnie Lefebvre piled up 22 RBIs, which would’ve made him the team-leader for four squads in the county. West’s Taylor Garczynski and Carson’s Colton Laws are obviously among the county’s best 18, but they dealt with injuries.

Here’s the 18 that did make it:

John Daugherty, Carson, Jr. — NPC Player of the Year. You can never go wrong with the best player on the best team as player of the year, and Daugherty is a worthy Mark Norris Memorial Award winner. He was versatile and he was clutch. He was one of the county’s best hitters (.500 On-Base Percentage) and best pitchers (8-1).

Eric Tyler, South, Sr. — Signed with East Carolina. Some years Tyler would’ve been a hands-down Norris winner. His season, both offensively and defensively as South’s catcher, was off the charts. Tyler threw out the world on the bases (35 assists) and his offensive numbers were outstanding — ,590 OBP, .390 batting average. Hurlers had orders to pitch around him (24 walks, 11 HBPs), but he still drove in 27 runs.

Dillon Parker, South, Sr. — Parker had a fantastic season as a pitcher/outfielder. His ERA is a little higher, but his stats basically mirror Daugherty’s — 9-1 on the mound, plus a .390 batting average with 26 RBIs. Parker had the most pitching wins of any South pitcher since Andrew Morgan a decade ago.

Brian Bauk, Salisbury, Sr. — Signed with Appalachian State. CCC Player of the Year. Bauk may be the county’s best athlete — period. Had he been 100 percent all year, he would’ve been in the player of the year mix. He was an awesome tablesetter for the Hornets (.550 OBP), used his speed to smack a county-high six triples and was basically unhittable on the mound down the stretch.

Dylan Carpenter, Carson, Sr. — A fine defensive left fielder, he came through with repeated clutch hits while batting over .400. He walked three times as often as he struck out and was among the county leaders in runs and RBIs.

Dillon Atwell, Carson, Jr. — Repeated as the Patrick Snider Memorial Award winner, an honor presented to Rowan’s pitcher of the year. He was 10-1, winning his last nine decisions, and threw a one-hitter in the first round of the 3A playoffs.

Michael Caldwell, East, Jr. — Played second base or shortstop smoothly. He hit safely in 11 of East’s last 12 games to push his batting average to.374. He had 34 hits, including nine doubles and two homers, and led the Mustangs with 20 runs scored.

Dylan Goodman, South, Sr. — Signed with Pfeiffer. South’s center fielder pounded 42 hits, including nine doubles. He drove in 25 runs, scored 29 times, batted .440 and reached base on exactly half of his plate appearances.

Chance Bowden, Salisbury, Jr. — The first baseman fielded efficiently and provided power in the middle of Salisbury’s lineup. He hit over .400 with a flurry of doubles and posted an OBP over .500.

Ben Gragg, Carson, Sr. — Signed to play football at Wingate. Gragg came out of nowhere. He started the spring on the bench, but he proved too good an athlete to keep out of the lineup and was hitting third in the playoffs. He batted .450, swatted four homers and stole 21 bases.

Connor Johnson, East, Jr. — Johnson is a fast outfielder and did a fine job of getting on base (.479 OBP), but he made the team mostly because of his pitching. The lefty was 5-4 with a 2.61 ERA and four complete games, including huge wins against Carson and South.

Tyler Fuller, South, Jr. — Started the season recovering from an appendectomy and a thumb injury, but once he got healthy, he was a handful. A quick lefty hitter, he batted .440 and scored 29 runs.

Nick Collins, West, Jr. — For a team that went 17-9, the Falcons didn’t put up big offensive stats, but Collins impressed because he did so many things well. He hit over .300, played several positions, made web-gem catches in the outfield, and also helped out on the mound with two wins and three saves.

Justin Evans, West, Sr. — Signed with Carson-Newman. Evans was a solid two-way player, batting over .300 as a first baseman and going 5-1 on the mound.

Bryson Prugh, Carson, Jr. — Prugh was an excellent defensive catcher and also produced a .360 batting average with 20 RBIs.

Clint Veal, North, Sr. — Veal was a important, multi-role player for the Cavaliers. He was their workhorse on the mound (5-5, four complete games), while batting .367.

Parker McKeithan, Salisbury, Sr. — Will play football at Appalachian State. The big lineman was a surprisingly nimble third third baseman and did a steady job with the stick. He topped the Hornets in RBIs, posting an average over .300 and an OBP over .400.

Chance Mazza, North, Jr. — The outfielder led North in just about everything, including batting average (.378), hits (28), RBIs (13) and steals (12).