• 45°

High school baseball: Carson’s Hales to Coker

Carson's Cole Hales plans to play at Coker

Wayne Hinshaw file photo/for the Salisbury Post …
Carson’s Cole Hales connects with the baseball during a game last season. Hales recently signed with Coker College, a Division II school in Hartsville, S.C.

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — The biggest surprise in Rowan County baseball next spring?

It might be Carson senior Cole Hales, who has started hitting baseballs over fences.

After a couple of years as part of the supporting cast for teams led by second-round draft pick Owen White, Hales (and Luke Barringer) will be counted on to lead the Cougars as seniors. Not only will Hales be counted on drive in runs for the first time, he’ll be a key varsity pitcher for the first time.

“We’re going to need Cole and Luke to be really good, and we’re confident they will be because they’ve worked their tails off since last season,” Carson head coach Chris Cauble said. “Cole is going to surprise people as a pitcher. The summer that the Carson Junior Legion team went to the state tournament, Cole went 12-0.”

Hales hit and pitched well enough for the Charlotte Megastars travel team in the summer and fall that he received an offer from Coker, a Division II program in Hartsville, S.C., that competes in the South Atlantic Conference with Catawba, Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne, among others. Hales signed with Coker in November.

“They came to see me play in the fall and started recruiting me,” Hales said. “They recruited me as an infielder, with second base being my most likely college position. I liked the school a lot when I visited, and I decided to go ahead and sign.”

Cauble’s earliest memories of Hales go way back, to before Carson even opened. Cauble was the West Rowan coach then, and Hales couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5. But he remembers seeing Hales hitting and throwing with his dad, Rob, at KidSports in Salisbury.

Hales has always been small, but his work in the weight room has started to show up. He’s noticeably bigger than last season. He’s listed now at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds. He’s emerged as a steady double-figure scorer for Carson’s basketball team this season after paying a lot of dues on the jayvees and on the bench.

“He’s always been that undersized kid who had to work extra hard,” Cauble said. “Now he’s started to grow physically. You’re going to see him hit with power to all fields next season. He hit three or four homers in the fall.”

Hales hit several balls to the fence for doubles for Carson as a junior, but to see balls going over the wall was a thrill.

“I’d come close, but I hadn’t hit one out since Little League, so it really was a good feeling,” Hales said.

Hales’ biggest contributions to Carson baseball last season came on defense. He played third base, a new position for him. He’s always been a second baseman or shortstop when not pitching.

“We asked him to try it, and he made himself into one heck of a defensive third baseman,” Cauble said. “During BP, he didn’t go shag fly balls. He stood in really close at third base, working on his reactions. It didn’t automatically happen for him. He just worked really hard to master a new position and got really good at it.”

Hales’ diligence at becoming a strong third baseman said a lot about him, but that’s how he approaches everything.

“I’ve known for a long time I wasn’t going to be tall or big,” Hales said. “If I was going to be successful in sports, I was going to have to try to outwork everyone.”

He’s worked hard enough to land a college scholarship. His best baseball days are definitely ahead of him.

“He’ll be successful because of his competitiveness,” Cauble said. “Wherever he’s playing, he’s going to give you everything he’s got and he plays to win.”

Comments

BREAKING NEWS

District attorney won’t bring charges against former Salisbury officer depicted in K-9 video

Coronavirus

Cooper plans to lift gathering, distancing limits by June 1

Crime

Convicted sex offender charged with having child pornography

Crime

Rowan County woman faces drug crimes for gas station incident

Crime

Blotter: Thousands of dollars in lumber taken from Newsome Road house

Local

Locals react to Chauvin verdict, reflect on work still to do

Business

‘Believe me, they’ll be fresh’: Patterson Farm welcomes strawberry crop

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1

High School

High school softball: Carson beats West in a wild one

College

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will speak at NC State graduation

High School

Wonders, Trojans facing off Monday on Cannon Ballers’ field

Local

City approves two apartment developments, more than 160 new units

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

News

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park