06/12/17 — LEGION -- Midseason report

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LEGION -- Midseason report

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2017 7:06 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Leaning back in his chair as cool air filled the University of Mount Olive press box on Friday afternoon, Jason Sherrer gave his current evaluation of the latest Wayne County Post 11 baseball team.

On paper?

Post 11 has the potential.

On the field?

There still seems to be a disconnection.

Seven players return from last year's team reached the Area I East Division tournament finals. They're joined by 10 players who have yet to grasp the style of Senior Legion baseball, which is one step above the high school level.

Is Sherrer discouraged?

"I feel good when I look at the roster on paper, and seeing the potential that each player has," Sherrer said. "At the same time, I get frustrated when we don't play to level of our capabilities. Each day is a new day, so it's more frustrating because I know there's more in the tank for all 17 players.

"They just haven't quite reached in there yet."

Wayne County is 5-4 overall and 2-0 against East Division competition. Post 11 concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule at home Monday against Rocky Mount, and launches a season-ending stretch of 10 consecutive division games Wednesday at 2016 state qualifier Pitt County.

Returners Derek Neal, Jack Casbarro, Tanner Wells, Hayden Amodeo, Lance Wise, Carlyle Smith and Jonathan Peacock are back this summer. Sherrer expects to see leadership from the quintet, most especially Neal who is an extra coach behind the dish.

High Point University commit Tanner Wells, one of the county's top hurlers, has been shut down by the Phoenix coaching staff this summer. Sherrer received permission to use the Eastern Wayne grad as a closer, and he's responded with two saves in 21/3 innings of work. At the plate, he leads the team with a .500 average and 15 hits -- including 12 of the extra-base variety.

The surprises?

Kolby Harris and Chance Howard. The two first-year starters have cracked the starting lineup, and played pivotal roles either on the mound, offensively or defensively.

Again, Post 11 has interchangeable parts.

"I think we've done in about half of our games where all 17 guys have played," Sherrer said. "I think we're still trying to figure out the last few components to solidify a starting lineup. Nine games in, we still have four spots (open).

"I've used a bunch of pinch runners, defensive replacements, bunch of pinch hitters. These guys have taken to it as soon as their name is called. They've gone out and done what they could."

Wayne County, uncharacteristically, hasn't found its identity.

Sherrer said the team is capable of either playing small ball or gripping it and ripping it in the box. Post 11 has shown glimpses of both styles, but struggled to move runners into scoring position.

Over the past 18 innings, Wayne County has logged 25 strikeouts.

"We're taking too many fastballs and it's putting us behind (in the count," Sherrer said. "It's not working out in the end as a hard ball getting put into play. Something's got to change. We've got to tweak (it) and make sure we get back on track.

"We're definitely going to have to step up and play at the level we're capable of or it's going to be a long June."