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Junior Legion: East hosts Salisbury in key matchup

Staff report

Officially, East Rowan Junior Legion baseball is in its first season of play at Staton Field.

The team is off to a 6-0 start and is routinely putting up double-figure runs.

In previous seasons, East players have competed under the banner of Rowan County Junior Legion.

This season, Rowan County Post 342 is sponsoring two Junior teams and is paying fees and insurance for both Salisbury and East Rowan.

The Salisbury team is directed by Salisbury High coaches Mike Herndon and Carson Herndon.

The East Rowan team has a staff that includes East high school coaches Brian Hightower, John McNeil and Kyle Bridges, as well as Justin Morris, a former Mustang who coached Erwin Middle School to a 16-1 record this spring.

There is also a tradition-rich West Rowan Junior Legion team, coached by Jesse Link, that made the state tournament in 2013 and 2015 and has produced Rowan County Legion players such as Hunter Shepherd, Bryan Ketchie, Lee Poteat, Brandon Walton and Brett Graham.

In the southern part of the county, there’s a Carson Junior Legion program directed by Chris Cauble and Blake Cauble that went 29-9 and made the state tournament last season.

East hosts Salisbury (3-1) at Staton Field tonight at 7 p.m. in East’s first league game, and there will be a lot of interest in the outcome.

Salisbury’s lone loss was to Mocksville, 4-3.

Salisbury has many of the standouts from its high school varsity team on hand, including Bo Rusher, Blaine Shellhorn, Joe Steinman, Jack Fisher and Will Taylor.

Knox Middle School’s Vance Honeycutt and SHS freshman Parker Lippard form a small but feisty double-play combination.

“We wanted to get every kid in our program playing baseball this summer, and that means varsity and jayvee players,” Mike Herndon said. “This is really going to help us build our program.”

Rusher and Fisher will be playing in some weekend showcase tournaments, but they’ll be available for most of Salisbury’s games. Both are hitting .500 in the early going.

Salisbury has won non-league games against Carson and West Rowan and also prevailed against the Davidson County Warriors, the stronger of the two Davidson teams, in its only league contest.

East has put together a stout team with a mix of varsity, jayvee and middle school players.

Hightower said Erwin’s Jake Hunter and West Rowan Middle’s J.D. Basinger are young players with big futures. Both are throwing in the low 80s with quality breaking balls. They join Junior Legion veterans Jake Davis and Blake White in a strong rotation.

First baseman Corbin Moss and catcher Charlie Klingler have been hitting well over .500 for East, and Hightower recently added East varsity infielder Matthew Mathis, who started the season with Rowan County’s senior Legion team.


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