Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 28, 2013
SPENCER — Clint Veal’s high school career as a two-way player didn’t cause any earthquakes, but it was a lot better than you might think.
In four varsity seasons — divided between Salisbury, where he started, and North Rowan, where he finished — Veal won 16 games on the mound.
Only three guys who have graduated from North since 2000 won more than 16, and Daniel Moore, Brandon Doby and Keegan Linza were pretty good.
Veal struck out 156 batters in his varsity career. He also helped out with the bat, accumulating 60 hits and driving in 45 runs.
When you’ve accomplished what Veal has, you want to keep playing in college, and he’s getting a shot to do that at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory.
“I was talking to them the last month or so of Legion ball, and they gave me a chance because I had some good recommendations from my coaches,” Veal explained.
Catawba Valley, which played in the Division II junior college World Series in 2012, brings in a lot of players and lets them compete for jobs.
“I know I’ve got to go in there and work my way up,” Veal said. “But now I’ve got a chance to see what I can do.”
Veal’s bloodlines indicate he can do well in college. His brother, Billy moved on from success at North and with the Rowan Legion team to a college career. In two seasons at NAIA Bryan, where he played with a flock of North teammates, Billy dented record books. His 21 homers rank fifth in Bryan history.
“He’s been a big supporter,” Clint said. “Billy started out as a pitcher and ended up as a shortstop, and I started out mostly as a catcher and ended up as a pitcher.”
While catchers are hard to find, Rowan coach Jim Gantt and North coach Aaron Rimer both felt Veal’s best chance to move to the next level would be to focus on pitching.
“They can’t both be wrong,” Veal said with a laugh. “I do like catching, but we had a good freshman catcher at North this year (Jake Pritchard) and the team needed me to pitch more than catch. It’s pretty hard on the arm if you try to go back and forth.”
Veal was one of North’s captains this season, along with Travis Holshouser and Thomas Tucker.
“Clint was our unquestioned leader,” Rimer said. “He was our ace on the mound and he was consistently good. It wasn’t always pretty, but we knew when we gave Clint the ball he was going to give us six or seven innings.”
Veal batted .367 as a senior and made the all-county team.
He won five times on the mound and pitched four complete games. He shut out Chatham Central and racked up a 7-2 1A playoff victory against Cherryville.
“The Cherryville game was my best performance,” Veal said. “That game stood out because not many people thought we could win it.”
At North, Veal threw fastballs, curveballs and a split-fingered pitch that Billy helped him develop.
“Clint learned to pitch inside with his fastball a lot more and he got a lot of strikeouts and groundballs with that split-finger,” Rimer said. “He also mixed in a pretty good curveball.”
In Legion ball this summer, Veal worked hard on a changeup, something he’ll need to succeed in college. His record was 2-1. He won against Mocksville and Concord but lost to Cherryville. Now he’s ready to take the next step up the competitive ladder.
“I think he’s got a great chance to be successful,” Rimer said. “He’s tough as nails on the mound. He’s a bulldog and hates to lose.”