Jabo Fulghum - All-Area baseball coach of the year
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 11, 2011 11:03 PM
How you'll be remembered is up to you is the message Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum delivered to his team before the season began.
Fulghum reminded his team of the program's foundation laid by former players and the opportunity this year's team had to write its own legacy. An inexperienced group matured as the season wore on and got hot at the right time.
The Warriors won the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference tournament, reached the 3-A east finals and concluded the year 20-9 overall. And Fulghum is the 2011 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Coach-of-the-Year.
Eastern Wayne lost eight players to graduation from its 2010 team and Fulghum began this season with a talented, but inexperienced squad. The Warriors began the season 5-2 before errors and stranding runners on base became reoccurring problems.
Eastern Wayne went 4-4 during a pivotal four-week stretch from late March to mid-April. All four of those losses were to ECC opponents and they each came by two runs or less.
"The talent was there, but the experience was not there," said Fulghum. "It seemed like for a while there almost every game we would have some defensive flaws for an inning. If we could stop it there we usually be all right."
After a 7-6 loss in mid-April at rival Charles B. Aycock, the Warriors caught fire and won five of their final six games entering the ECC tournament. Timely hitting, solid pitching performances and a much-improved defense keyed Eastern Wayne's success.
Center fielder Greg Simms led the team with a .429 batting average, seven home runs and 32 RBI. Senior Logan Wicks returned from a back injury to provide another reliable arm to go along with talented junior right-hander Zack Mozingo. The Warriors compiled a team earned run average of 2.75 with 247 strikeouts in 201 innings pitched.
The Warriors defeated North Lenoir in the ECC tournament finals and got past South Brunswick 4-1 in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association class 3-A state playoffs.
Mozingo tossed his second no-hitter of the season in a 6-0 win at Wilson Hunt. Wins over D.H. Conley and North Lenoir propelled Eastern Wayne into the east finals for the second time in three years.
Northeast Guilford swept the Warriors in two games denying Eastern Wayne the opportunity to play for the state championship it just missed winning in 2009. With the majority of his team returning next season, Fulghum hopes a season full of learning experiences pays dividends in the future.
"Let's hope we learned that every opponent is wanting to win the same thing we do and it is a matter of who wants it more," said Fulghum. "A lot goes on at the end of the year, there's a lot of distractions. It is a matter of who can come together and who wants it more.
"The kids had a great year and I thought we overachieved."