High school sports: Busy spring in Rowan County
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2021
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Everyone expected an exciting baseball season, and they’re getting it.
West Rowan beat South Rowan. South Rowan beat Carson. Carson beat East Rowan. So naturally, East Rowan beat West Rowan on Friday to complete the dog-eat-dog cycle.
The big game this week is Friday’s Carson at West Rowan matchup.
Carson is 2-0 in the North Piedmont Conference, including that huge win over East, while West is 0-2, but West southpaw Casey Gouge could make that one a tossup.
West totaled only three runs and seven hits in last week’s losses to South Iredell and East, and the Falcons have to get the bats going if they’re going to contend for a playoff berth. Only the NPC’s conference champion is guaranteed to be in the playoffs, and it probably will take 7-3 in the league to get in as a wild card. Fortunately, Statesville was able to field a team. If you’re looking for a wild card — they’re based on conference winning percentage — there’s a big difference in 7-3 (.700) and 5-3 (.625).
South Rowan needs Central Carolina Conference wins this week at West Davidson and Central Davidson. The Raiders had a lot of chances to beat Oak Grove on Saturday, but left 13 men on base and gave up five unearned runs in a 9-6 home loss.
Salisbury gets its season started in earnest this week. The Hornets only have played twice. Now, coach Mike Herndon and shortstop Vance Honeycutt move on from the euphoria of winning a football state title. Honeycutt’s teammates will include Ellen Yang. The softball star is playing second base for the baseball squad.
North Rowan has lost 23-0 and 27-1 in its first two outings, but the good news is the Cavaliers were able to put together a team that is being coached by former South Rowan player Zach Tatarka. Through most of the preseason, it appeared unlikely North would have enough players to field a squad.
Softball ended abruptly over the weekend, with Carson dropping a second-round game Friday, while West Rowan was losing a third-round game.
East Rowan’s Cinderella season ended in the third-round Saturday night with a 1-0 loss.
Between them, the three North Piedmont Conference squads won five playoff games. East and West won two each on the road.
Girls soccer ended with Salisbury’s third-round loss at Lake Norman Charter on Friday.
The Hornets (12-2) and Carson (10-4) managed excellent seasons, as short as they were.
Salisbury junior Sutton Webb scored at an amazing rate — 36 goals and had eight assists.
Carson’s Lani Isley and Salisbury’s Webb and Piper Muire have received major accolades from their respective conferences.
Wrestling is under way, although COVID remains a factor.
West Rowan coach Jonathan Brown said he scheduled 22 matches, but the Falcons already have had their season cut just about it half due to quarantines and rescheduled conference matches by other schools.
At this time, there is no scheduled county tournament.
Like tennis, there are no wrestling dual team championships this year, but there will be an individual tournament.
There was some excitement in boys tennis over the weekend in regional play in Salisbury.
South Rowan’s Joey Caraccio and Salisbury’s Will Koontz finished 1-2 in singles and both advanced to the 1A/2A state tournament that will be held at Cary Tennis Park on May 14-15.
Koontz beat the Mountain Valley conference champ on Friday and won a match on Saturday morning against the Rocky River champ that went three sets and more than three hours. Koontz came back from a 5-3 deficit to win the third set 7-5.
Koontz had severe muscle cramps before the finals match with Caraccio, but there was concern a default might mean disqualication from the state event, so he got some therapy, consumed pickle juice and mustard and was able to gut it out. Caraccio won 6-2, 6-3.
A great season for East Rowan’s doubles team of Landon Shuping and Ryan Brady ended in the 3A Midwest Regional in Concord when they lost to a team from Charlotte Catholic.
Girls tennis season has started.
East Rowan won a 5-4 match with West Rowan.
Carson has started 3-0. The Carson team includes long-time star Lindsey Conrad at No. 1 and other familiar names such as Carleigh Perry, Riley Isley and Colbie Perry.
Salisbury won its first Central Carolina Conference match with West Davidson.
Track and field season is finally under way as well, and athletes such as Salisbury’s Jalon Walker will be competing.
The Rowan County Championships are set for this Saturday at East Rowan, but there will have to be two sessions to stay within COVID guidelines.
East Rowan, North Rowan and Salisbury will compete in the first session, starting at noon.
West Rowan, South Rowan and Carson will compete in the second session that will get under way at 3 p.m.
They’ll put the times and marks from the two sessions together, and county champions will be determined.