03/01/13 — BASEBALL TAB -- Combs ready for new venture at South Lenoir

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BASEBALL TAB -- Combs ready for new venture at South Lenoir

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

Oh, the irony of it all David Combs will experience when the South Lenoir baseball team officially opens its season next week.

He left a tradition-rich county for a program that's built a solid reputation on the Class 2-A scene during the last half of the decade. An assistant the past two seasons to Trae McKee at Southern Wayne, Combs was named the Blue Devils' new coach in mid-January.

He succeeds Tim Jenkins, who is now at East Duplin.

"They have a pretty good history at South Lenoir and they are great kids," Combs said. "I just really enjoy the area, it's close to where I am living now and it just worked out. I'm just hoping to have some of the success that Coach (Troy) Eason and Coach Jenkins had over there.

South Lenoir has seized four East Central Conference regular-season championships since 2007 and finished runner-up on two occasions, including last spring. The Blue Devils reached the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern semifinals in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Teams coached by Eason and Jenkins combined to compile a 119-30 worksheet that included three 20-win seasons from 2007-2012.

Combs, who played on Lenoir Community College's national runner-up squad in 2008, has shown the Blue Devils a different mindset and approach in preseason practices. He wants to improve the players' knowledge, fine-tune the fundamentals and make sure they understand the basics of fielding, hitting and throwing.

So far, the players have adapted to his methods and terminology. They've displayed a good work ethic and have shown the will to improve every day as a player.

"The coaches I had ... Stony Wine (at LCC), McKee, Coach (Carl) Lancaster and Coach (Rob) Watt ... there is great knowledge that I got from all of them," Combs said. "Even when I played, I knew I wanted to be a coach. To learn from those guys who are the best in it, I'm looking forward to it because it will help my transition over here in Lenoir County.

"I am pretty lucky."

Combs came to Deep Run last semester as a physical education teacher and developed a strong relationship with the players.

He's ready for the next -- and biggest -- challenge of his career.

"Being a first-year head coach and young guy, the parents have to realize I'm going to make mistakes," said the 25-year-old Combs. "But, at the same time, I'm going to out-work everyone I can at this age. I want to get the guys on the same page with me in terms of the game and how we are going to play at South Lenoir. Once we do that, we'll be OK."