News-Argus Baseball position player of the year Ñ Jes Snyder, Spring Creek
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 13, 2004 2:01 AM
It doesn't take too many conversations with Spring Creek baseball coach Roger May to understand his determination to build towards the future of Gators' baseball.
Spring Creek's Jes Snyder and the Gators won their first ever Class 1-A Carolina Conference championship this season, finishing 17-10 overall and 9-3 in the balanced conference and earning a first-round bye for the state playoffs.
It was a season that could prove to be a launching point for May's vision. It's a vision that Snyder, the 2004 News-Argus Baseball player of the year, shares with his four-year coach.
"The biggest sense of pride is that now we have a foundation because we were the conference champs," Snyder said. "Hopefully, we will develop more respect for our school."
The shortstop posted big numbers in his senior campaign. He pounded out a .477 average with three home runs, eight doubles and seven triples, while driving in 25 runs.
Defensively, he had 62 assists and 31 put-outs against eight errors -- using a fluid, all-in-one-motion approach on grounders at short.
After Spring Creek knocked off Wallace-Rose Hill in Teachey, Snyder performed particularly impressively on the Gators' biggest stage of the season at home in the third round of the playoffs against Princeton.
In front of over 300 fans -- the biggest crowd to watch a game in the young history of Spring Creek -- Snyder slugged a two-run home run to left-center field in the second. Then, he drove in what would eventually be the Gators' final run of the season with a double to deep center in the fourth.
Of all of the strides he made in his game through high school, Snyder is particularly proud of the increased pop in his bat. He knows he will need more of that if he is to succeed at the next level.
"My power is starting to increase. I've put in extra work in the weight room, but there needs to be more," he said.
The win streak that eventually brought Spring Creek to the third round of the playoffs -- its deepest playoff push in school history -- started shortly after two tough losses to Middle Creek and Princeton in the Deacon Jones Easter Tournament.
The Gators' complete all-around style of play produced seven straight wins, including six straight conference wins and a sweep of the second half of the Carolina 1-A Conference schedule.
In Spring Creek's regular-season finale and conference-title clinching win at North Johnston, Snyder tripled to deep right to open the scoring in an 11-2 win over the Panthers in Kenly.
"After the Easter Tournament, something clicked," Snyder said. "We knew we could win. After we lost two tough ones in the tournament, something just came together as a team."
May credits a big part of the run to the leadership of Snyder and fellow senior, Randy Amos.
"Last year he was a leader by action, but this year he was kind of like a behind the scenes coach," May said. "You could always expect him and Randy to do what they were supposed to.
"I think that was a big ticket to our success."
Daniel Thompson, Michael Sigmon, Norman Sites, Patrick McSwain, Jeff Kincaid, along with Snyder and Amos all made up a solid senior core of players.
"They are a great group of guys. We've been together since our freshman year, and we've seen great improvements thanks to Coach May," Snyder said.
Snyder is still undecided about where he will take his game collegiately. According to Snyder, Mount Olive College is pursuing the strongest, along with Coastal Carolina, Charlotte and Old Dominion.
"He's a sleeper. A lot of people don't know enough about him, but if you see him play and be with him on a day-to-day basis, you will fall in love with him," May said. "He's always working on his hitting and he's constantly taking ground balls. He's got a great work ethic."
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