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High school baseball: Davie still strong

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

Davie County baseball

Coach: Bradley Rudisill (2nd season, 22-4 at Davie)

Key returners: Catcher Aaron Williams, center fielder Garrett Chandler, shortstop Troy Clary, third baseman Joe Johnson, left-handed pitcher Spencer Nifong, OF/P Anthony Azar

Key losses: Carson Whisenhunt, Hunter Bowles

2019 record: 22-4 overall, 9-1 Central Piedmont Conference (1st)

Playoffs: Lost second round to South Caldwell

 

MOCKSVILLE — Despite a second-round playoff loss, Davie County was third in the final MaxPreps rankings for the entire state. That lofty ranking came from playing a great schedule and winning 22 of 26 games.

“We believe we can be good again,” Davie coach Bradley Rudisill said. “We’ve got that same kind of energy we had last year and our guys have put in the work and gotten better in the off-season.”

Davie lost to defending state champ Mooresville this week, but the War Eagles look loaded, with a lineup anchored by catalyst Garrett Chandler, an East Carolina recruit who will patrol center field, and slugging catcher Aaron Williams.

The Central Piedmont Conference Player of the Year, Williams signed with Catawba.

Shortstop Troy Clary, third baseman Joe Johnson and right fielder Anthony Azar are returning .300 hitters with gap power.

The key loss from last season was Carson Whisenhunt, now a freshman at ECU. He was the ace pitcher and also provided a major chunk of the War Eagles’ power.

“I don’t know that we’ll have a true No. 1 pitcher this time,” Rudisill said. “But we’ve got five or six arms that we’re comfortable with.”

Spencer Nifong, a left-hander who won five games last season, is sure to be one of the top hurlers. Junior right-hander Zach Rogers was the opening day starter in an 8-1 win against Carson.

Rogers throws 86-87 mph, while Nifong is 83-84 from the left side. Azar, who throws in the upper 80s, is a potential closer. John Davenport doesn’t possess as much heat of some of his teammates, but he gets guys out.

“Nothing Davenport throws is straight,” Rudisill said.

New faces to know are backup catcher/DH Daniel Lawson, second baseman Blake Little and first baseman Bailey McKnight, a senior who will have an expanded role this year.

“On paper it all looks pretty good, but you still have to go do it between the lines,” Rudisill said. “We’re playing a very challenging schedule and our conference (CPC) is loaded. We’ll see how we stack up.”

Reagan, which finished a game behind Davie last season, will be stout again. West Forsyth has added a lot of talent. Rudisill said Glenn, which has everyone back, is the darkhorse.

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