07/18/06 — MOC performers playing for Tobs in CPL

View Archive

MOC performers playing for Tobs in CPL

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on July 18, 2006 2:16 PM

WILSON -- The dog days of summer are a time of rest from competitive baseball for many college players.

Understandably so, as the school playing schedule can often cover a large portion of four months -- not including fall and winter practice.

But Mount Olive College's Josh Carter, Erik Lovett and Stephen Nordan -- and eight of their Trojans teammates -- are still hitting the diamond on an almost-daily basis in summer wood-bat leagues.

All in the Coastal Plain League, Carter, Lovett and Nordan are key components for the Wilson Tobs, while Weston Curles and David Cooper (Asheboro Copperheads), Graham Wooten (Spartanburg Stingers), and Patrick Ball (New Bern River Rats) also compete in the CPL.

Meanwhile, Kyle Curtis, Mike Kicia, Tim Morgan and Dustin Richardson are taking the field for St. Albert of the Western Baseball League in Canada.

The Wilson trio anchors the right side of the field for Tobs coach Jeff Steele nearly every game with Carter at first base, Nordan at second base and Lovett in right field. All three admit the summer season has had its ups-and-downs, especially as they have strived to make the adjustment from aluminum to wooden bats.

"I've always said you can tell a good hitter once you put a wooden bat in his hand," said Nordan, who was named to the American CPL All-Star team. "If you don't hit the ball on the sweet spot, you'll just break your bat or it will end up being a slow roller or a pop up."

If the season is a learning process, the last three games may be a dangerous sign to CPL pitchers in the second half. Carter, Lovett and Nordan have all raised their averages by 10 points or more during the stretch.

Nordan, a rising senior and the 2006 Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference tournament MVP, is currently hitting .305 -- up from .274 at the end of last week -- with 21 RBIs.

"The key for me is to not be content. I don't want to be just a, 'first-half player,'" Nordan said. "I want to continue to produce and hopefully help us win in the second half."

Carter was hitting just .232 on Friday, but has jumped up to .255 with 13 RBIs. The Eastern Wayne product and rising MOC senior, Carter, hit a whopping .405 for the Trojans during their run to the 2006 Division II East Regional.

"It's been a humbling season for me," he said. "It's a big adjustment with the wooden bats. Plus, at Mount Olive we had a great hitting coach, Rob Watt, who helped us everyday if he saw something in our swing. Up here, we don't have a specific hitting coach, so it's made it a little tougher."

Lovett, who missed nearly all of last season at MOC due to a severe bone bruise in his knee, is batting .284 and has posted impressive power numbers in his return. His nine home runs and 27 RBIs are both team highs and rank among the league leaders.

Lovett admits recovering from the injury was frustrating.

"It was tough ... a lot tougher than I thought it would be," he said. "Basically, I just had to stay off my knee as much as possible. But I think I'm working my way back, and I'm happy to have this opportunity this summer.

"It's a lot like playing pro ball really. We go everywhere on a charter bus and the fans are very supportive."

All three should be key cogs for MOC, which returns most of its starters from a defending CVAC tournament championship squad.

"With all three of us playing together, we'll get to know each other's games even better for next year," Nordan said. "Not only that, we get to catch up with our teammates that are on some of the other teams in the league."

But first, the three hope to lead the Tobs to a first-place finish in the second half, which would qualify them for the eight-team Petitt Cup at the end of the season. Wilson finished 13-13 in the first half of North Division play. They are 5-4 in the second half so far and return to action at Peninsula (Va.) on Thursday.

"I don't think anybody ever really is completely satisfied with what they are doing individually. You always want to get better," Carter said. "As a team, we want to go out and play our best and hopefully come away with the second-half title.

"If we lose, we don't want it to be because we didn't give it our best."