John Alphin: News-Argus Baseball Pitcher of the Year
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 22, 2008 2:04 AM
John Alphin might have thrown his last pitch, hit his last home run and taken his last bus ride with his teammates.
The North Lenoir senior wouldn't change a thing.
With his future in baseball in jeopardy thanks to a back injury suffered during his junior season, Alphin left everything he had on the field in his senior campaign to the tune of a 10-1 record with a 1.25 earned run average.
The comeback performance earned Alphin the 2008 News-Argus All-Area Pitcher of the Year award.
While playing with the Hawks in an ImpactBaseball.com Tournament in Wilson during his junior season, Alphin fractured the L5 vertebrae in his back while making a throw from the outfield.
Following surgery, Alphin's ability to practice was limited and his future in baseball beyond high school was up in the air.
Undeterred by his circumstances, Alphin returned for his senior season determined to help his team compete for the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A state championship that eluded it in 2007.
"I think the main thing was I was so relaxed this year," said Alphin. "I wasn't uptight and thinking about college and where I was going to go. I was able to be more relaxed and have fun."
With Alphin back in the fold North Lenoir finished the 2008 season 21-2 overall including a 10-0 record in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference. The Hawks reached the fourth round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
With a newfound faith in his two-seam fastball that's built for inducing ground balls, along with a slider and a changeup Alphin recorded 62 strikeouts in 56 innings of work.
Alphin's final start for North Lenoir was a third-round playoff game at Mayodan McMichael. The right-hander struck out five and also hit a solo home run in the Hawks' 6-0 victory.
North Lenoir's quest for a state title was derailed with a fourth-round loss to Hillsborough Orange. Now Alphin is heading to ECU with no plans to play baseball outside of a chance at walking on.
His days of being a teammate and playing a game he loves may very well be over, but after one last stellar season, Alphin wouldn't change a thing.
"If this was my last year and I don't end up playing next year then I'm perfectly satisfied," said Alphin. "I have no regrets. I believe everything happens for a reason. The season went just the way I was hoping it would go."
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