Eastern Wayne baseball preview
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 9, 2012 1:48 PM
A chance to honor a hurting teammate and the opportunity to build upon last season's success.
Eastern Wayne has no shortage of motivation entering the 2012 season. The Warriors have dedicated the season to teammate Jake May, who is out for the year after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Eastern Wayne is also hoping to improve upon last season's trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional championship series where it lost to Northeast Guilford.
"I think our guys are hungry and this season has been dedicated to Jake and we want to be the best team we can be and honor Jake at the same time," Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum said. "He's going to be on our sleeve and in our hearts mostly. I can see in our practices and the way we go about our business that our kids our on a mission to get back further than we were last year.
"The situation with Jake has helped us realize you can't take a day for granted, you're not promised tomorrow."
Eight seniors return from a team that went 20-9 a year ago and captured the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference tournament championship. University of North Carolina signee Zack Mozingo is back to anchor the pitching staff. Mozingo compiled a 9-3 record last season with a 1.44 earned run average and 136 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings.
"I expect him to get better," Fulghum said of Mozingo. "We're hoping that he keeps that drive of wanting to be the best he can possibly be. We expect the same amount of improvement that we've seen the last three years."
Seniors Hunter Barnett and Nolan James are also being counted on to provide quality innings and experience in the starting rotation. Underclassmen Jeremy Lancaster and Ryan Faucette provide depth out of the bullpen.
Mozingo and junior Tyler Huetter are expected to split time at first base, with senior Wes Stewart penciled in as the every day second baseman. Faucette and Benito Avila will split time at shortstop, while Lancaster and James are both capable of playing third base. Josh Dixon is filling in for May behind the plate and Wes Capps will be the Warriors' designated hitter.
Barnett, James, Tyler Ware, Grayson Wells, M.J. Morgan and Ryan Mitchell should all see time in the outfield this season.
Despite May's absence, a blend of experience and youth has expectations high once again in New Hope.
"Last season should give us a lot of confidence in that we've been there and done that," Fulghum said. "We've been through some tough times and we're a team that's been there together. When you get in some close games and you've experienced close games deep in playoffs, hopefully our experience will come back to help us a little bit."