High school baseball: Mustangs pounding away

Published 10:47 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

By Mike London


GRANITE QUARRY — Nate Hayworth homered for East Rowan on Wednesday.

What makes that notable is that Hayworth bats ninth for the Mustangs.

Hawyorth’s homer was just part of the show. East scored six runs in the first inning and wiped out Marvin Ridge 13-3 in five innings at Staton Field.

East obviously didn’t bat in the bottom of the fifth, so the Mustangs scored 13 runs against a perennially tough team — while making 12 outs.

That’s efficient.

Coach Brett Hatley’s squad has launched 10 homers in its first seven games, with seven different players going deep.

In other words, East appears to have the most power any Rowan County program has had in a long time.

UNC Pembroke signee Morgan Padgett has homered in back-to-back games. McCall Henderson belted two homers in the same game. Catawba signee Blake Hill also has socked two.

UNC commit Cobb Hightower, N.C. State pitching commit Chance Mako, Catawba commit Logan Dyer and Hayworth have hit one each.

East (5-2) went 1-2 on a trip to Georgia, but is 4-0 against North Carolina competition, including Tuesday’s 20-5 win against Lake Norman Charter that opened South Piedmont Conference play.

In Wednesday’s romp, Hightower had two hits, including a double, and scored three runs. Padgett went 3-for-3, scored two and drove in four. He had a double in addition to his homer.

Henderson had three hits, with two doubles, and drove in three. Hayworth was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer.

Then there’s freshman Harrison Ailshie, who is a name to know.  He hasn’t joined the homer parade yet, but he went 2-for-2 against Marvin Ridge, scored three runs and is batting a team-leading .458.

The other key member of the lineup is Braden Shive. He’s a speed guy who is getting on base at a sensational rate. His on-base percentage is a team-best .538.

All that offense won’t mean a lot if the Mustangs don’t throw strikes, but it appears they can be solid there too, as they build a staff around Mako.

Padgett has pitched very well in the early going.

Dylan Valley, the 1,000-point basketball scorer, and Joe Burleyson got the job done on the hill on Wednesday. Valley got the first 10 outs. Burleyson got the last five outs and struck out four.

East is home on Friday against Lake Norman Charter.