American Legion ball in full swing
Some teams have began their American Legion seasons
By CRAIG MOYER
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Area athletes are in the heart of American Legion baseball season.
Clubs in Hertford and Elizabeth City have a good amount of games under their belts, while Edenton has gotten off to a late start to the season.
Here is more on area American Legion baseball:
Edenton (1-2) began their season with a 1-0 loss to Wayne County, a 3-1 victory over Pitt County and then a 7-1 loss to Pitt County. The team began their season later than most teams due to the Aces extended run in to the playoffs and eventual state championship.
The team is made up from players from all over the area, including eight Edenton Aces, one from Northeastern, five from Martin-Riverside and two from Columbia.
Only seven members of the seventeen man roster are seniors heading in to college, making the team younger than most years.
“We are a young team, but we have a lot of talent, we are a more talented team than we have been the last few years,” head coach John Downum said.
The team’s pitching staff is made up of Edenton’s Dylan Patrick, who will play at Pitt Community College next season and Matt Benfield, who is heading to Methodist University, as well as Riverside’s Conner Harrison who is heading to Chowan University. Harrison had a shut-down performance on the mound against Pitt County, allowing just one run.
Downum is looking to the top of his batting order to power the team’s offense, as Austin Lee from Riverside bats first, followed by Edenton’s Patrick Downum and catcher Joe Wiggins from Riverside.
Austin Lee will fill in a void in the middle of the infield left by an injury to Aces’ star Ben Ward.
“Our shortstop Ben Ward will be out for a while with an elbow injury, he’s an all around good player and we are going to miss him,” Downum said.
Coach Downum mentioned what an honor it is to be given the opportunity to continue coaching his son and the seven other Aces on the team.
“They are just a great group of guys, they enjoy being around each other, they’re like brothers and for me to be a small part of it is special,” Downum said.
Edenton travels to Farmville today for a double-header and then hosts Ahoskie for a double-header on Monday and Wilson on Tuesday for a double-header.
Head coach Jason Goetz is happy what he has seen from his team, made up completely of Perquimans Pirates, so far this season.
“We are in first place in the east division at 8-2 overall and 5-2 in conference, so we are off to a pretty good start,” Goetz said.
Goetz is looking to Mason Votava to lead his offense as a table setter in the lead off spot and says his success plays a key role in the outcome of a game.
Tyler Futrell will likely have an impact on the offensive side and on defensive side, staking his claim as one of the best catchers in the area.
Rising senior Devin Mathis will look to lead the Pirates on the mound, after having a strong season for the high school team this spring.
“Those three are our leaders as far as their performance, but we have some other guys who have stepped up and played some roles that they are not really used to,” Goetz said.
For Goetz, having a team made up of players all from one school, makes the transition from spring ball to summer ball smoother.
“For us, it’s just a continuance of our school season, signs stay the same, the only thing that really changes is the name on the jersey,” Goetz said.
Perquimans graduated nine seniors from this seasons team after making it to the third round of the 1A state playoffs, so summer ball is a chance for new players to display their skills before next season.
“It’s an opportunity for guys that did not get to play much during the regular season to step in and fill the void of departing seniors,” Goetz said.
Albermarle manager Randy Cartwright is seeing his team succeed on the field, but said that is not all he is concerned about.
“We are 4-3, so that’s not bad and we are all about teaching life lessons and winning is not the most important thing,” Cartwright said.
Cartwright mentioned five different coaches who are coaching and mentoring the team, including Dexter Harris, who is the new parks and rec director, Jeff Simpson who works within parks and rec, Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe, Ryan Singletary and Nathaniel Simpson.
The team is made up of 13-17 year old’s from all around the area, with Northeastern as the base school, including three players from Pasquotank, three from Camden, three from Northeastern and a 7th grader from River Road who is the youngest player on the team.
Cartwright has had three sons pass through legion ball, as Andrew Cartwright is currently on the team and Noah Cartwright is a senior heading to Chowan University.
Cartwright is pleased with what he has seen from the new coaches this season and sees the positive impact they are having on the team.
“They get the opportunity to learn from people like Dexter Harris, who played in college and coached at the college level, so he has a wealth of knowledge to teach these kids and to help them get better,” Cartwright said.