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Bowden, Hathcock topped .400

SALISBURY — The final numbers entered the record books Wednesday night for Rowan County’s 2013 American Legion season, and the batting averages posted by Chance Bowden and Chase Hathcock were noteworthy.
Bowden’s .421 mark was the 14th-best in program history. The hard-hitting first baseman had a chance to finish even higher than that before Kernersville hurlers held him to a rare 0-for-4 on the final night of the season.
Hathcock, who played second and third base, batted .411. He could’ve dropped below .400 on the final night, but instead he bumped his mark four points with a 2-for-4 effort. Hathcock compiled the 17th-best batting average in program history.
Dating back to its days as Salisbury American Legion, Rowan has produced 25 .400-hitters. This is the third time, all in the last decade, that the team has featured multiple .400 hitters.
Ross Steedley and Zeb Link accomplished the feat in the 2005 season that was shortened by disqualification.
Rowan’s 2009 World Series team actually had a quartet that topped .400 — Trey Holmes, Noah Holmes, Zach Smith and Russell Michalec.
Smith’s .482 mark in 2010 is the program record for a single season.
The highest averages for previous decades belong to Jerry Hillard (.466 in 1956), Wade Morgan (.451 in 1966), Derry Steedley (.423 in 1977), Joe Clark (.437 in 1982), Craig Powers (.475 in 1997) and Cal Hayes Jr. (.470 in 2001).
Bowden had 15 doubles this season, which ties him for 15th on Rowan’s all-time list.
Bowden, a rising senior at Salisbury, will be eligible for more Legion ball. He’ll take a .358 career average into next season. That puts him in good company. Trey Holmes and Cass Safrit are the other two Rowan players with lifetime .358 batting averages.
While Bowden led Rowan (22-10) in batting average, runs, hits, doubles and RBIs, center fielder/pitcher Brian Bauk led in triples and stolen bases.
Bauk’s seven career triples put him on the Rowan all-time list. Only 10 players have had the power and speed to smack more than seven triples. Richard Snider, who starred in the 1950s, and Johnny Yarbrough, who shined in the late 1960s and early 1970s, have been the leaders in that category for a long time. Both had 13 triples in their Legion careers.
Bauk also makes the career list with 44 steals in two seasons. He’s tied for 11th place with Will Sapp and Kelly Gordy. Hayes holds the career record for the program with 141.
Bauk also led Rowan pitchers in all the major categories. He was 6-0 with a 1.68 ERA and 51 strikeouts.
Reliever Heath Mitchem, a rising junior at Carson, went 5-0, while Connor Johnson was 4-0. Riley Myers, a rising junior at Salisbury, led in saves with three.
Unofficially, Justin Evans was among the most improved players in program history.
He raised his batting average from .235 in 2012 to this year’s .388. He also improved from 0-3 on the mound to 3-1.
The program’s all-time pitching records still belong to Tom Eaton, hero of the 1955 World Series team.
Eaton’s 33 career wins and 419 strikeouts are likely to be permanent records.
Brian Boltz, who will be inducted into the Salisbury-Rowan Hall of Fame next month, is second in wins with 23. Randy Benson is second in strikeouts with 352.
Rowan’s most veteran players this season were shortstop Ashton Fleming and catcher Nathan Fulbright. Fulbright started three years and played in Senior Legion games as far back as 2009.
Fleming was a key player the last three seasons.
Fulbright, Fleming and Hathcock, a two-year starter, all produced at least 80 career hits.
See today’s Scoreboard for the final 2013 stats.

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