07/17/10 — Fulghum chooses Pitt CC

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Fulghum chooses Pitt CC

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 17, 2010 11:06 PM

Colton Fulghum probably understood his future at the ripe old age of four years old.

His father, Jabo, played baseball in college and is the current head coach at Eastern Wayne. His grandfather, Rabbit, played in college and won numerous state titles as head coach at Greene Central. He has been enshrined in the N.C. American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.

But the younger Fulghum did -- partially -- break the family mold.

"My dad and grandpa have always wanted me to be a catcher ... bought me catcher's gear for my fifth birthday," smiled Colton. "Both of them were catchers. I tried it and hated it."

Fulghum found his niche patrolling the outfield for two-plus seasons on the Eastern Wayne varsity team. He'll take that experience with him this fall to perennial JUCO power Pitt Community College.

"I've always wanted to play baseball in college," said Fulghum. "Pitt has always had a really good baseball program. I've known coach (Tommy) Eason all my life and have seen him at all the baseball camps I've been to.

"My dad lived in Greenville and went to ECU, and I hope I can follow in his footsteps some."

Fulghum entertained offers from fellow JUCO programs Lenoir and Louisburg, two teams that have reached the World Series on either the Division I or II level. Pitt advanced to the Division I JUCO World Series this spring after winning the Region X tournament and Eastern District title.

The Bulldogs concluded the year 41-13 overall and ranked No. 4 in the top 25 poll.

Before Fulghum can step onto the Minges-Overton Complex diamond, he must get into playing shape again. He suffered a lower back injury the final month of the high school season, and was benched most of the Senior American Legion season.

"My back started hurting when there was a month left during the high school regular season and I never told anybody because I wanted to play," said Fulghum. "When Legion started, I kept on taking BP and it kept on hurting. One day, I took three swings in BP before a game and couldn't swing any more."

Doctors determined that Fulghum suffered a stress fracture in his spine. Too many repetitions in the batting cage put pressure on his back and lower vertebrae. Fulghum has worn a brace since, but hopes he will be released this week.

"When he clears me, I'm headed to the weight room to do a lot of abs (work)," said Fulghum. "I'll be doing a lot of things to strengthen your core, which helps strengthen your back. I'll be able to swim again."

Fulghum batted .347 and drove in 16 runs for the Warriors, who collected their third consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season championship this spring. Eastern Wayne finished 17-11 overall and advanced to the eastern semifinals in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

An all-ECC performer, Fulghum was just one of five Warriors to start in all 28 games.

When Eastern Wayne reached the state championship series in 2009, the Fulghum family established a first on the North Carolina prep baseball scene. The trio became the first-ever father, son and grandfather to play and coach in the state finals.

"Being able to win and have all the success there that we did, to do that with my dad and grandpa, that's something that doesn't happen much," said Fulghum of his Eastern Wayne career. "That was really cool and fun, especially going to the state championship."