06/12/05 — News-Argus Baseball pitcher of the year -- Dustin Overman

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News-Argus Baseball pitcher of the year -- Dustin Overman

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2005 2:06 AM

Dustin Overman can't forget that first twinge of pain.

When the right-handed pitcher released a pitch against Ayden-Grifton, he felt something pull in his back.

The Rosewood High senior didn't think anything about it. In fact, he finished the outing against the Chargers and followed that up with a complete-game performance against North Johnston.

But the pulled muscle, located just below his shoulder blades, took its toll in the last regular-season game against archrival Princeton.

"It just kept getting worse," Overman said.

The Eagles eventually lost and missed grabbing the second playoff spot available in Class 1-A Carolina Conference play.

Despite that disappointment, Overman turned in a stellar senior campaign -- a 1.31 earned run average (ERA) in 58 innings with 99 strikeouts and 12 walks. At the plate, he batted .375, collected 16 RBI and stole 21 bases. His on-base percentage was .611.

For his outstanding effort, Overman is the 2005 News-Argus pitcher of the year.

The frustrating injury didn't bother Overman when he threw a side-arm pitch. However, when he came over the top to throw something off-speed or a fastball, the muscle twinged and limited his follow-through motion.

"It was painful," Overman said. "It was a little bit added pressure because I didn't want to throw too much ... past my limit. I hope I've got baseball in my future, but I had to do my part and make it as far as I could."

Each time Overman took the mound, he had to concentrate on locating his pitches and working through the pain. Catcher Kyle Bunn did an exceptional job calling behind the plate and kept Overman's confidence level high -- especially in tight ball games.

"We were always on the same page," Overman said.

Overman attributed the team's success, and its late-season playoff charge, to team unity and chemistry. Everyone got along well on and off the field.

The group remained focused on team goals and didn't show any concern about individual achievements. The pressure mounted toward the end of the season once the Eagles had become part of the playoff picture.

Rosewood finished 12-8 overall and 7-5 in the conference -- one game behind Ayden-Grifton and eventual state champion Farmville Central.

"It didn't turn out like we wanted it to," Overman said.

With his prep career behind him, Overman is spending the summer with the Wayne County American Legion Post 11 squad. He attended a workout Thursday at Barton, and spent Friday morning with the Lenoir Community College staff.

Overman's best asset, undoubtedly, is his ability to throw off-speed pitches from his 5-foot-7, 170-pound frame. He's not overpowering, so his breaking stuff and his slider, which improved tremendously this season, are his bread-and-butter pitches.

"I like to keep them guessing," he grinned.