Evans signs with UNCP
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 9, 2004 1:55 PM
KENLY -- Aware of her dominating presence in the pitcher's circle, UNC Pembroke coach Steve Johnson has kept a watchful eye on North Johnston's Candace Evans.
He's followed her to AAU tournaments, been near the dugout during high school games and even seen her around the UNC P campus on occasion. Evans made several trips down I-95 to visit her sister, Dana, a former Panther standout who will graduate on Saturday.
The more Evans dropped in on her sister, the more she became accustomed to the small Division II campus. The close-knit community reminded her of North Johnston and swayed her decision away from a few other colleges.
Tuesday afternoon, she made her official decision. With parents Rhonda and Danny Evans sitting beside her, Candace signed a national letter-of-intent to play for the Braves next season.
"It is a nice, little fit I think," said Evans, a three-time member of the Class 1-A all-Carolina Conference team.
Evans' hard-throwing ability and speed are two reasons Johnson recruited her.
"Candace is a hard thrower who will add great depth to our pitching staff," he said in a press release. "She's had tremendous success in high school and we're looking forward to that continuing here."
Evans joins a program that battles in the highly-competitive Peach Belt Athletic Conference. Pembroke posted a 17-30 record last season and ended up ninth overall in the 11-team league.
Kennesaw State (Ga.) won the conference and advanced to the NCAA Championships, losing back-to-back games to Shippensburg (Pa.) University and Florida Southern.
Johnson has also signed Ali Greene from Virginia Beach, Va., and Katie Rubio from Fayetteville.
Johnson expects Greene and Rubio to add some power to the lineup.
"The conference is one of the best conferences you can be in," Evans said. "It's really competitive. I think he's more excited about me coming on and being more of a speed pitcher.
"He's got Liz Hatcher, who is more of a finesse pitcher."
Evans has been working on adding a rise ball to her repertoire of pitches. She's also spending time with her curve ball and hopes to have more success with it this season.
Regardless, Evans has already penned an impressive resume in three seasons.
She is 59-9 overall with 679 strikeouts and a .806 earned run average (ERA). North Johnston has won 63 games overall and a pair of Carolina Conference titles.
"Obviously, she has been instrumental in leading us," veteran North Johnston coach George Daniels said. "Candace has just got power and still has a lot of room to grow. I really feel she can help carry a team at the next level."
Until then, Evans has her sights on one more goal -- a state title.
"I really think we can get back to Walnut Creek," Evans said. "In fact, I know we'll be there."
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