06/02/13 — All-Area baseball: Hobbs selected coach-of-the-year

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All-Area baseball: Hobbs selected coach-of-the-year

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 2, 2013 1:53 AM

James Hobbs has a few luxuries that baseball coaches at small schools traditionally do not have.

He has a core group of players that have been sharing the diamond since their elementary years. They gained experience on the JV level and he's got the support of a school and community that loves winning on any athletic field.

All those intangibles put together has led to two consecutive stellar seasons for Hobbs, who is the 2013 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Coach-of-the-Year.

"I have been very fortunate to coach a really good group of young men," Hobbs said. "They love the game and they put in the work that it takes for the team to be successful."

North Duplin finished the season 18-7 overall and claimed the Carolina 1-A Conference title for the second time in the past three years. The Rebels advanced to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs for the second straight year before falling to perennial power Dixon.

Hobbs' team had just three official practices before its first regular-season game.

"Being a small school means most of our guys play basketball, too," Hobbs said. "When basketball ended we had some bad weather and that pushed us back so we only had three days on the field before the first game."

Hobbs managed his pitchers carefully and watched as the team came together quicker than he expected.

"We didn't really know what we had as far as pitching," Hobbs said. "The first handful of games I ran each guy out there for two or three innings just to kind of get their arms in shape gradually. Luckily, we hit the ball well early on and we were able to win some of those early games."

With only one senior graduating, the 2014 edition of Rebels' baseball could be even better than this year. Hobbs is not interested in any hype that his squad is receiving a year in advance.

"I think a lot of people are excited about this group, but that's a long ways off," Hobbs said. "Our guys are playing summer ball and then it's right into football and then basketball."

Having to share athletes with other sports would leave some coaches nervous, but not Hobbs.

"It's not just the players at a small school that are involved with multiple sports, it's the coaches, too," Hobbs said. "My focus in the fall will turn to football and then over the winter shift back to baseball. I think it is good for the kids to play everything that they can.

"When you look at guys in the major leagues or the NFL or NBA almost all of them played multiple sports. When it's baseball season again, I'm sure we will be ready to play."