Wayne County North: Coach Fulghum's have fun philosophy perfect remedy
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 27, 2008 11:10 AM
Jabo Fulghum might have a future in psychology.
Wayne County North compiled a 7-9 record through its first 16 games when Fulghum, the team's head coach, knew exactly what his team needed to hear.
"I told them 'let's quit worrying about winning so much and worry about improving, having fun and playing together,'" he said. "It took the pressure off them."
Wayne County North responded with victories in 13 of its final 16 contests, and reached the state Junior American Legion tournament. The team finished 20-12 overall.
Fulghum's squad punched its ticket to the state tournament in Cary by winning back-to-back elimination games against New Bern and Southwest Brunswick. After getting hammered 16-2 by Southwest Brunswick, North gained revenge two days later with a 10-7 victory.
"There wasn't one person carrying this team," said Fulghum. "A lot of things came together and we had several guys getting it done. We had some guys who hadn't hit the ball and they started swinging the bat.
We started getting key hits from guys up and down the lineup and we got on a roll."
Colton Fulghum (.434 average), John Taylor (.420), Jose Ponce, Zach Mozingo, Zach Beachem, Nick McGee and a host of others all played important roles in the North offense.
Jimmy Kearney, typically Wayne County North's closer, was forced into a starting role. He tossed 6 1/3 solid innings to lead his squad past rival Wayne County South 4-1 in both team's first game of the state tournament.
The victory was Wayne North's first of the summer against Wayne South after dropping the previous two meetings.
Coupled with the three games it had played earlier in the week before advancing to the state tournament, Wayne North ultimately played seven games in six days, including doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday.
Fulghum and company were one out away from advancing to the state finals before dropping a 7-6 decision to Rocky Mount, its first loss in the double-elimination tournament.
"Derek Limbaugh threw a super game against Rocky Mount," said Fulghum. "We led the whole game and we just couldn't find that last out."
After Wayne North avoided elimination with an 8-7 win over Oxford, the season ultimately came to a close with a 13-3 loss to Southwest Brunswick.
"In the last game we were out of gas," said Fulghum. "The trip to Cary was a very rewarding experience. The whole season was very positive. It looked dim at the beginning but it wound up being positive and there wasn't a bad apple in the whole bunch."
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