03/09/12 — Goldsboro High School baseball preview

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Goldsboro High School baseball preview

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 9, 2012 1:48 PM

Faded over time and tattered at the edges, framed images of black-and-white photographs silently stare at passers-by who walk through the hallway outside the Goldsboro High weight room.

Those heroes of past Cougar baseball teams are reminders of a tradition-rich program that has struggled to regain its swagger in the last two-plus decades.

First-year head coach Jackson Massey hopes to rekindle the community's spirit about the greatest show on dirt, restore pride and put a competitive team on the field that will earn respect each time it steps between the lines.

"(The players) hear and understand that Goldsboro was the 'big dog' of Wayne County baseball back in the day," said Massey. "I tell them that every time you put on that shirt that says 'Goldsboro,' don't think about the past four of five years when you've struggled, but think about the guys who played on this field who reached the big leagues.

"We're letting them know that we're really trying to turn this thing around to where it should be."

Goldsboro fashioned a 2-17 worksheet last season and finished winless in Carolina 1-A Conference play. Juwan Hall, the team's lone senior, returns along with position players Ronald Woody and Asunji Maddox.

Woody and Maddox filled the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the lineup, respectively, last season.

"Those three guys have leadership and experience as far as playing time," said Massey. "We've got another junior (Jamal Moses) on the mound. There are juniors who played last year, but we're really loaded with freshmen and sophomores. We have three or four guys who haven't played baseball since Little League.

"I look at having one senior as kind of positive because everything we're teaching, this time next year they'll understand what we mean when we ask them to run a drill."

Massey and assistant coaches Airlon Vinson and Tyler Ham have seen signs of the team buying into their concept and philosophy. The team has shown a good work ethic, especially Miguel Lugo, who received the team's inaugural preseason player-of-the-year award before a recent practice.

Goldsboro's biggest nemesis has been inconsistent pitching and defense since it resurrected the program earlier this decade. Opposing teams feasted on errors and walks last season, and Massey has stressed the importance of reducing those mistakes to a minimum.

The Cougars must control the little things -- in practice and in games.

"As long as we don't make the mistakes that add on to more mistakes, I think we'll be OK once we realize that pitching and defense wins ballgames and offense sells tickets," grinned Massey. "My main goal is to get the guys to compete every day they come out here. We want to let other teams know that we're not a pushover and we're going to give you our best every single game.

"That will help make everyone outside of this program realize it's a different ballclub than what they've seen the past four or five years."