02/24/12 — Stevens: Somber Wayne County baseball community has plenty of healing to do

View Archive

Stevens: Somber Wayne County baseball community has plenty of healing to do

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 24, 2012 1:48 PM

Having grown up in Rockingham County, I knew little about this area before moving here in August of 2007.

Upon arriving at the News-Argus, I quickly began to understand the role baseball plays in Wayne County. I received a crash course in the rich baseball tradition this county so proudly calls its own.

During my time here those of us who follow baseball in this area have been fortunate enough to witness several of the latest chapters in the history of Wayne County baseball. I can vividly recall almost every twist and turn of Mount Olive College's magical ride to the 2008 NCAA Division II national championship.

I remember watching as the phrase, "Elmer's glue," bonded together a group of resilient young men during Eastern Wayne's run to the 3-A state finals in 2009. During the past few years, Charles B. Aycock's Connor Narron grew from a freshman who started on a state championship team, into a highly-coveted prospect now playing in the Baltimore Orioles' organization.

This past season, the golden right arm of Carter Capps, the lanky catcher-turned pitcher, helped guide Mount Olive back to a return appearance in the Division II College World Series.

Recently, the story of baseball in Wayne County has taken a much more somber turn. Eastern Wayne senior catcher Jake May was diagnosed with leukemia. This past Saturday, Southern Wayne senior center fielder Kevin Wise unexpectedly passed away.

The 2012 high baseball season begins in just three days and there will undoubtedly be some difficult moments. I'll miss May's stoic demeanor behind home plate in New Hope. Never again will I be able to drive through Dudley or cover a game at Southern Wayne without thinking about Wise and his ability to make highlight-reel catches look incredibly routine.

There is something therapeutic about the game of baseball. It is perhaps the only sport capable of making me forget for three or four hours exactly what type of day I am having. Maybe it is the sport's unique ability to reconnect us all in some powerful way with that feeling we had as children with a bat in our hands.

The baseball community here has some healing to do and if there is one thing I've learned during my time in this area it's that you never count a team from Wayne County out. We may be hurting right now, but like Mount Olive in its lucky gold jerseys, we'll find a way to rally.

It's time to start healing.

It's time to play baseball.