02/05/13 — WC Hot Stove League: Godwin stresses player's character is key to success

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WC Hot Stove League: Godwin stresses player's character is key to success

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 5, 2013 1:47 PM


Work ethic.

Mental toughness.

Be a great competitor.

Be the best team.

East Carolina head baseball coach Billy Godwin discusses those five characteristics with his team before the first pitch is thrown each season. He reminds them that baseball teaches a player the game of life, how to persevere, how to grind, how to overcome adversity and how to deal with failure.

Ironically, every award winner announced during the seventh annual Wayne County Hot Stove League Banquet on Monday evening demonstrated those qualities which led to successful seasons on the baseball diamond during 2012.

Charles B. Aycock head coach Charles Davis and former player Michael Taylor, now in his 11th season at Wayne Country Day, once again shared the Doyle Whitfield Award. The two also received the honor in 2008 after leading their respective teams to state championships in 2007.

Davis' team struggled through a midseason slump, but rebounded to finish runner-up to Weddington in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A championship series. Taylor's squad overcame a 2-6 start and fell to perennial powerhouse Lawrence Academy in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state finals.

"It is a privilege and an honor," Davis said. "When you win awards like this, it's not what I do (as a coach). It's the team sitting over here, my three assistant coaches ... those are the guys who did a lot of work and none of this is possible without their help."

Jeremy Taylor and his Southern Wayne teammates dealt with the shock from the sudden death of senior Kevin Wise just days before their season-opening game. The Saints battled their emotions all season and Taylor notched an opening-round, no-hitter against Northern Nash in the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.

Doug Evans, the son-in-law of the late Clyde King, presented Taylor with the Clyde King Award. Taylor tossed five complete games and held opposing teams to an incredible .127 hitting percentage last spring.

Aycock teammates Adam Pate and Collin DuBose earned the Jerry Narron Award and George Whitfield Scholarship Award, respectively. The duo helped the Golden Falcons upset three straight No. 1-seeded teams in the playoffs and advance to the state-title series for the third time in program history.

Pate has signed an national letter-of-intent to play at North Carolina next fall. DuBose is a member of Mount Olive's nationally-ranked baseball team which opened the season with a three-game sweep of in-state foe Lenoir-Rhyne this past weekend.

"I want to thank my coaches from Aycock, they've been with me since the summer of my eighth-grade year and gave me a chance on the Junior Legion team," Pate said. "It really helped me out my four years. I want to thank my mom and dad who are with me every day, and help me every day with my goals and dreams in baseball.

"I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for everything He does in my life. I'm such a blessed young man and it's all because of Him. It's a true honor."

Jimmy Duke received the John Thomas Award, which recognizes someone from the community who has selflessly given their time to youth baseball.

Throughout the evening, a candle flickered brightly in the corner and illuminated a framed photo of Wise. His hat sat on bright red Southern Wayne jersey which draped the front of the table. A picture of Wise in his Wayne County Post 11 Senior Legion uniform graced the cover of the Hot Stove League program.

"Kevin was a young man who emulated everything positive in sports," Hot Stove League organizer Roger May said. "Although his life was tragically cut short, he had such a profound impact on so many peoples' lives. He played game of baseball the way it should be played with heart, commitment, sacrifice and always put his team first."

Lucas McKay, who admired Wise as a friend and Christian, has organized the Kevin Wise Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund at Mount Olive College. The financial award will help send a Wayne County baseball player to MOC once he completes his prep career.