Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Get your baseball fix during Easter break!

If you don't plan to go to the beach or head out of state during the Easter break, how about taking in an Easter baseball tournament.

Below are schedules of what is going on with high schools teams in both Nash and Edgecombe Counties, along with the Big East Conference members in Wilson County.

Teams will be participating in events in Tarboro, Louisburg, Four Oaks, Kinston and Columbia, S.C.

Go to fullsize image

2010 Tarboro Baseball Classic
April 7-9, Historic Municipal Stadium, Tarboro

Wednesday, April 7

GAME 1 - Lawrence Academy 9, Roanoke Rapids 5
GAME 2 - Nash Central 10, Jefferson Forest (Va.) 9
GAME 3 - Rocky Mount Academy 12, SouthWest Edgecombe 10
GAME 4 - Tarboro 10, St. Maria Goretti (Md.) 0

Thursday, April 8

GAME 5 - Jefferson Forest (Va.) 11, Roanoke Rapids 5
GAME 6 - SW Edgecombe 15, St. Maria Goretti (Md.) 5 (5 inn.)
GAME 7 - Lawrence Academy 16, Nash Central 3 (5 inn.)
GAME 8 - Tarboro 7, Rocky Mount Academy 1

Friday, April 9

GAME 9 - Roanoke Rapids 17, St. Maria Goretti (Md.) 16 - 7th Place
GAME 10 - Jefferson Forest (Va.) 12, SW Edgecombe 0 (5 inn.) - 5th Place
GAME 11 - Nash Central 10, Rocky Mount Academy 2 - 3rd Place
GAME 12 - Lawrence Academy 7, Tarboro 3 - Championship
2010 Tarboro Easter Classic All-Tournament Team
Jay Donahue, St. Maris Goretti (Md.)
Bobby Jones, Roanoke Rapids
Eric Heiligenstadt, Jeffereson Forest (Va.)
Adam Hyland, SW Edgecombe
Tyler Mizelle, Nash Central
Adam Bayless, Rocky Mount Academy
Scott Norville, Tarboro
Chase Johnson, Tarboro
Scott Edge, Lawrence Academy
Cameron Peed, Lawrence Academy
Chad Whitehead, Lawrence Academy - Brandon Whitlark Memorial MVP Award

The remaining Big East Conference schools are playing the following schedules. Southern Nash is the only Big East team that will not be playing during the Easter break. I will update all these scores during the Easter break!

Friday, April 2

Lawrence Academy 3, Fike 1 - Louisburg Easter Tournament

Saturday, April 3

Rocky Mount 9, Smithfield-Selma 8 (9 inn.) - Johnston Co. Easter Invitational
Fike 10, Bunn 0 (5 inn.) - Louisburg Easter Tournament
Northern Nash 4, West Craven 3 - George Whitfield Invitational, Kinston

Monday, April 5

Fike 10, Warren County 0 (6 inn.) - Louisburg Tourney
Rocky Mount 8, West Johnston 2 - Johnston Co. Tourney

Parrott Academy 5, Northern Nash 2 - Whitfield Tourney

Tuesday, April 6

Hunt 19, Champmanville (WVa.) 11 - Forest Acres Classic (A.C. Flora HS, Columbia, S,C.)
Clayton 7, Rocky Mount 5, championship - Johnston Co. Tourney
Northern Nash 5, Kinston 3

Wednesday, April 7

Nash Central 10, Jefferson Forest (Va.) 9 - Tarboro Classic
Hunt 9, Sumter (SC) 3 - Forest Acres Classic (A.C. Flora HS, Columbia, S,C.)

Thursday, April 8

Westminister Christian (Miami, Fl.) 7, Hunt 6 - Forest Acres Classic (A.C. Flora HS, Columbia, S,C.)
Lawrence Academy 16, Nash Central 3 - Tarboro Classic

Friday, April 9

Nash Central 10, Rocky Mount Academy 2, Tarboro Classic
Hunt 7, Dreher 2 - Forest Acres Classic (A.C. Flora HS, Columbia, S.C.) - Third Place

Rocky Mount leads Wachovia Conference Cup race

After taking titles in boys and girls basketball this past winter, Rocky Mount remains in first place in the Big East 3-A Conference race for the Wachovia Conference Cup.

Wachovia Bank, along with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, announced Monday the standings for winter sports in the Wachovia Conference Cup competitions for the 2009-10 academic year.

The Conference Cup is awarded to schools with the best overall interscholastic athletic performance in each individual conference.

Rocky Mount, which also finished second in wrestling, is in the lead at 107.5 points. Wilson Fike, which took conference titles in boys and girls swimming and finished second in boys basketball, is in second with 98.5 points.

Nash Central, which was fourth after the fall season, vaulted past Wilson Hunt into third place in the standings with 94.5 points thanks to a second-place finish in men's swimming and third-place finishes in wrestling and boys basketball.

Wilson Hunt has 91.5 points for fourth place, followed by Northern Nash (81 points) and Southern Nash (76 points). The Wachovia Conference Cup will be awarded to the winning school at the conclusion of the spring sports season.

2009-10 Big East Wachovia Conference Cup Standings

1. Rocky Mount 107.5
2. Wilson Fike 98.5
3. Nash Central 94.5
4. Wilson Hunt 91.5
5. Northern Nash 81.0
6. Southern Nash 76.0

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goodwin off to good start at UNC

Brian Goodwin takes a swing during UNC's series at Duke two weekends ago. (Photo/David Hahula)

Former Rocky Mount baseball standout Brian Goodwin has had a stellar start to his collegiate career at North Carolina.

After 21 games (he has started all 21), he is batting .333 (tied for third on the team) with five doubles (third), three triples (first), three home runs (tied first) and knocked in 22 RBI (third).

He got in a little trouble last week when he reverted to being a high school baseball player - for one play.

In an at-bat versus Princeton, he hit a high fly ball toward third base that he thought would be caught. He threw his bat to the ground and eventually ran to first. Well, the Princeton third baseman dropped the ball. If he had hustled out of the batter's box, he would have been at second base, not first.

UNC head coach Mike Fox took him out of the game minutes after that play.

It was a hard lesson for Goodwin to learn, but he quickly found out that you never stop hustling in the game of baseball.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

What will RMHS' state championship rings look like?

Above are prototype shots of what the championship rings Rocky Mount's boys basketball team, coaching staff, managers, statisticians and trainers will likely receive.

The top picture is the top angle, the left side with the person's name with number or position, the other side will show the mascot name, the state with the classification and the year.

The hard part will be raising money to purchase the rings. Just ask the baseball players from two years ago.

Please contact head coach Mike Gainey if have any ideas on how to raise the money for these wondering symbols of accomplishment.

I am really happy for assistant coach Jason Battle. He'll be the only individual who will have one from 2008 and 2010!

Record day of baseball in Roanoke Rapids

Did the Rocky Mount school records ever drop on the baseball field Wednesday in Roanoke Rapids!

On the same field where the Gryphons struggled for a 3-2 win last season, Rocky Mount pounded the homestanding Yellow Jackets 19-0 in five innings.

How potent was Rocky Mount's offense? The most potent - ever!

Its 19 runs tied a school record with the 19-12 victory over New Bern in 1999 (that was very, very windy Saturday afternoon at Gryphon Stadium with the wind blowing out to left center!)

The 21 hits Rocky Mount recorded was the second most in school history. The record was 24 against Northern Nash in 1974.
Rocky Mount slammed five home runs - also a school record. Collins Cuthrell, Matthew Berry, Parker Helms, Spencer Bell and Jeremy Trevathan all went yard. The record had been four - at Nash Central last season (by Ben Fish, Brian Goodwin, Chris Pittman and Carter Varnell).

Cuthrell tied the school record for hits in a game with four (he was 4-for-5) - held by 13 different players - including Cuthrell.

In fact, he was the last Gryphon to actually perform the feat prior to Wednesday - in the conference tiebreaker game at Northern Nash last season (13-1 win). Thomas Berry (vs. South Granville) and Brian Goodwin (vs. Tarboro) were the other RM players who tallied four hits in a game in 2009.

Ironically, all three went 4-for-4 in their respective outings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2009-10 Big East 3-A All-Conference Basketball Teams


1st Team

Jerrel Williams, Wilson Fike
Tashawn Mabry, Rocky Mount
Dominique Holloway, Nash Central
Brandon Ward, Wilson Hunt
Darius McKnight, Rocky Mount

2nd Team

Schuyler Jones, Wilson Fike
Darius Freeman, Northern Nash
Kadeem Williams, Southern Nash
Detrail Jenkins, Rocky Mount
Chris Woodard, Wilson Hunt

Honorable Mention
A.J. Hines, Wilson Fike
Tyrell Vinson, Wilson Hunt
Terrance Copeland, Nash Central
Mitchell Wells, Northern Nash
William Young, Rocky Mount
Josh Sessoms, Southern Nash

Player of the Year - Jerrel Williams, Wilson Fike
Coach of the Year - Brent Secrest, Wilson Fike


1st team

Alexus Cooper, Nash Central
Danita Whitaker, Rocky Mount
Ciara Perry, Wilson Fike
Erica Arrington, Wilson Hunt
Timishia Walker, Rocky Mount

2nd team

Valesha Brown, Wilson Hunt
Jameka Thompson, Wilson Fike
Kadjrah Richardson, Northern Nash
Brittany Clark, Nash Central
Latoya Applewhite, Rocky Mount

Honorable Mention

Aquila Drake, Wilson Fike
Quanisha Brown, Wilson Hunt
Xaviera Bass, Nash Central
Jessica Lyons, Northern Nash
Tia Hudgins, Rocky Mount
Shaleea Burns, Southern Nash

Co-Player of the Year - Danita Whitaker, Rocky Mount
Co-Player of the Year - Ciara Perry, Wilson Fike
Coach of the Year - Pam Gainey, Rocky Mount

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hudgins receives special gift

Elon receiver and former Gryphon Terrell Hudgins and Pro football Hall of Famer Steve Young pose for a shot Monday in Elon. Young was in the Triad area promoting some entrepreneurial ideals and stopped by Elon to give Terrell a football signed by himself and his former San Francisco teammate Jerry Rice.

Terrell broke Rice's NCAA pass receiving records last season.
(Photo/Elon SID office)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Join the pep rally should the Gryphons return triumphant

At least two bus loads of fans will be leaving Rocky Mount High School Saturday afternoon for the state 3-A title game.

The number of fans driving to Chapel Hill may number in the thousands.

Now, if the Gryphons should come home triumphant Saturday night, fans returning to Rocky Mount are charged with one more job.

Drive straight to Rocky Mount's gym and join in the fun of a pep rally for the team. The more the merrier.

If you were in the parking lot at Gryphon Stadium on Saturday, May 31, 2008 when the Rocky Mount baseball team returned home with their championship trophy, you had to be beaming with pride for the boys. Twenty-six years of state title emptiness was subsided.

And when the great one, former head baseball coach Pat Smith, spoke to the crowd as daylight was waning, he was as emotional as I'd ever seen him in his tenure here.

The NCHSAA doesn't allow fans on the floor after a championship game, so fans and players can't exchange hugs and good wishes.

So when this prep rally ends, should RM win, gather on the floor like RM fans traditionally do after every home game, grab a player and give him a handshake or hug.

They will have deserved it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Big East Baseball Preview Capsules


Head Coach: Jeff Mizelle (2nd season)
2009 Record: 7-14, 2-8 NEW 6
Returning starters: 6
Strengths: better defense, six starters back
Weaknesses: young hitters, including three sophomores
Toughest non-conference opponent: Smithfield-Selma
Probable starters:
1B - Mason Wallace, Jr.
2B - Matthew Bowling, Sr.
SS - Jordan Taylor, So.
3B - Tyler Mizelle, Sr.
C - Jeremy Sloop, Jr.
LF - Bennett Williford, Jr.
CF - T.J. Taylor, Sr..
RF - Mike Narron, Sr.
Top pitchers: 1. Trellis Ashley, Jr., 2, Jeremy Sloop, Jr.
Coach's expectations: We have to have a good non-conference to get ready for league play. But it won't be easy playing teams like Smithfield-Selma, Tarboro and Roanoke Rapids.


Head Coach: Eddie Loesner (3rd season)
2009 Record: 17-9, 9-1 NEW 6
Returning starters: 2
Strengths: use to working hard, use to winning
Weaknesses: lack of varsity experience
Toughest non-conference opponent: C.B. Aycock
Probable starters:
1B - Madison Mayo, Jr.
2B - Drew Smith, So.
SS - Luke Joyner, So.
3B - Jeremy Lucas, Jr.
C - Grant Stallings, Sr.
LF - Fuller Weatherly, Jr.
CF - Mackenzie Mayo, Jr.
RF - Hunter Watson, Fr.
Top pitchers: 1. Brandon Denton, Sr., 2. Jeremy Lucas, Jr.
Coach's expectations: No reason we can't win if we played hard; we must play with focus; we can't worry about the guys we lost, so we have to get it done with the guys we have and play to win.


Head Coach: Kent Cox (first season)
2009 Record: 20-3, 9-1 NEW 6
Returning starters: 7
Strengths: pitching and defense, senior leadership
Weaknesses: hitting - losing the school's best-ever RBI man (Ben Fish, 82) and top hit man (Brian Goodwin, 126)
Toughest non-conference opponent: Ardrey Kell, Greenville Rose
Probable starters:
1B - Matthew Berry, Jr.
2B - Michael Whitehead, Sr.
SS - Collins Cuthrell, Sr.
3B - Spencer Bell, Sr.
C - Thomas Berry, Jr.
LF - Jeremy Trevathan, Jr./Matt Williams, Jr./Taylor Clontz, Jr.
CF - Parker Helms, Sr.
RF - Benton Moss, Sr/Hobbs Johnson, Sr..
Top pitchers: 1. Hobbs Johnson, Sr., 2. Benton Moss, Jr.
Coach's expectations: We hope to repeat as conference champions and make the state playoffs. We have a target on our backs. We'll have average speed, so we won't be stealing a ton of bases.


Head Coach: Jeff Flowers (9th season)
2009 Record: 8-13, 3-7 NEW 6
Returning starters: 4
Strengths: speed on the bases, No. 1 pitcher
Weaknesses: young, a lot of kids in new spots, four sophomores on the varsity
Toughest non-conference opponent: Beddingfield
Probable starters:
1B - Chris Martin, Jr.
2B - Josh Barnes, Jr.
SS - Luke Mercer, Jr.
3B - Tyler Jenkins, Sr.
C - Daniel Tyson, Jr.
LF - Tevin Boykin, Soph.
CF - Zack Parris, Soph.
RF - J.B. Sherrod, Soph.
Top pitchers: 1. Kyle Shields, Sr., 2. Daniel Tyson, Jr.
Coach's expectations: Going to try to improve throughout the season. We want to be better in May than we were in March. Our young kids will have to learn as they go. It is a rebuilding year.
NOTE: Southern is playing only 20 regular season games and is the only Big East team not playing in an Easter tournament this season.


Head Coach: Will Flowers (29th season)
2009 Record: 14-9, 6-4 NEW 6
Returning starters: 3
Strengths: pitching (three seniors)
Weaknesses: experience
Toughest non-conference opponent: North Johnston
Probable Starters:
1B - Dustin Edwards, Soph.
2B - Matthew Owens, Jr.
SS - William Prince, Sr./Michael McLawhorn, Sr.
3B - Mitchell Wheeler, Sr.
C - Jackson Pardue, Jr./Jordan Crumpler, Fr.
LF - Richard Hinton, Fr.
CF - Daniel Moore, Sr..
RF - Cullen Carter, Sr.
Top pitchers: 1. William Prince, Sr., 2. Mitchell Wheeler, Sr.
Coach's expectations: I expect us to make a run at the conference title and go deep into the playoff. But this is the youngest team I have had in years and we may have to reload a bit.


Head Coach: Jon Smith (3rd season)
2009 Record: 17-6, EEC member
Returning starters: 7
Strengths: six seniors, experience, chance to be real good offensively
Weaknesses: will rely on pitchers to deliver solid performances
Toughest non-conference opponent: C.B. Aycock
Probable Starters:
1B - Ches Lamm, Jr./Deion Doubledeen, Jr.
2B - Cody Britt, Sr.
SS - Zack Lee, Sr.
3B - Zach Houchins, Sr.
C - Kyle Pittman, Sr.
LF - Seth Wiggs, Sr.
CF - Jacob Page, Soph.
RF - Avery Harper, Jr.
Top pitchers: 1. Ches Lamm, Jr., 2. Zack Lee, Sr.
Coach's expectations: We feel like we have good players who want to finish first in the conference.

To the RMHS radio sponsors, thank you!

Hopefully, a few thousand Rocky Mount residents will make the trek to Chapel Hill to support the Gryphons in the NCHSAA 3-A state boys basketball championship game against Concord in the Dean Dome Saturday evening.

It is unrealistic to think that the city will just shut down for this event. There will be no rolling up the streets here.

That's why I am so glad that a group of area businesses have made it possible for those who cannot attend, or those who are, say, Rocky Mount alums that may be 3,000 miles away (like former RM athletes Bo McDiarmid, Class of '75, and Danielle Powell, Class of '92, who both live in the Pacific Northwest) may listen to the game - live!

Jammin' 99.3 FM WZAX Radio is not only broadcasting the game live over the airwaves, but it is streaming it live on the Internet. The link to the broadcast is: 99.3 Jammin 99 - WZAX

So to this glorious list of sponsors, Gryphon Nation thanks you!

Walt's Clothing
First Class Limo
Don Bulluck Chevrolet
Big Griff Bailbonding
Pizza Inn
Western Sizzlin'
Hester, Moore and Tucker Law Firm
Carolina Plumbing Supply
Batts, Batts and Bell Law Firm
Hardee's Restaurants
Edmondson Accounting Services

Impact Invitational results

Here are the results of the 5th Annual IMPACT Invitational Baseball Tournament held Saturday.

Rocky Mount, in its third edition of the event, dropped to 1-2 in the tournament all-time after a 7-2 loss to Ardrey Kell.

Kell, the defending 4-A state champion and is loaded with college-bound talent (six players have already signed and two more about to commit), dropped its first two games of the season before meeting the Gryphons.

5th Annual IMPACT Invitational
High School Baseball Tournament
Saturday - March 6, 2010

USA Baseball Complex & Durham Athletic Park

IMPACT Invite Scores

Ragsdale 6, JH Rose 2
Pinecrest 10 Providence 0
Ardrey Kell 7 Rocky Mount 2
West Rowan 7. Northwood 1
Watauga 5, Graham 0
CB Aycock 8, Smithfield-Selma 4
Southern Alamance 10, Middle Creek 9
Forsyth Country Day 14, Whiteville 3
DH Conley 8, Orange 5

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gryphons are the Big East baseball coaches' choice for 2010

Rocky Mount has been elected as the favorite to win the 2010 Big East Conference baseball regular season title in a vote of the league's coaches this week.

The Gryphons, going for their fourth straight 20-win season, received five first place votes, the most they could receive (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.) RMHS finished with 25 points.
RMSH has won or shared a conference title the last four seasons.

New kid on the block, Wilson Hunt, got the other first place nod and garnered 21 points. The Warriors were 17-6 last season and were the third seed in their old league, the Eastern Carolina Conference. They are led by third-year head coach Jon Smith.

Wilson Fike finished third in the voting with 17 points, followed by Northern Nash (12 points), Southern Nash (9) and Nash Central (6).

Rocky Mount, Northern Nash, Wilson Fike, Southern Nash and Nash Central all made the playoffs last season with the Northern going the furthest - bowing out in two games in the NCHSAA 3-A East finals series.

2010 Preseason Big East 3-A Baseball Coaches Poll

1. Rocky Mount (5) - 25 pts.

2. Wilson Hunt (1) - 21 pts.

3. Wilson Fike - 17 pts.

4. Northern Nash - 12 pts.

5. Southern Nash - 9 pts.

6. Nash Central - 6 pts.

(Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Five points for first place, four points for second place, etc.)

2009 NEW 6 3-A Baseball Standings







Rocky Mount





Northern Nash





Wilson Fike





Southern Nash





Nash Central





SW Edgecombe





Monday, March 1, 2010

Alas, the wives have the last say!

My good friend Wes Bradshaw and I were talking the other day and he remarked "imagine if the sons of Sonny Wooten, Ricky Joyner and Bill Merrified had gone to Rocky Mount, how many more state titles they might have won!"

That comment came after he had just left one of East Carolina's weekend baseball games with visiting South Carolina - where all three sons had spots in the dugouts.

Ironically, all three daddies earned state titles for the Gryphons. But sadly for RMHS, none of these guys decided to live in Rocky Mount.

Wooten was a stalwart for the 1973 squad that won a title for Jerry Carter. Merrifield and Joyner played for the George Kelley-coached 1980 team that claimed the 4-A state crown.

Now their sons, all three all-state performers in high school, are at the college level.

John Wooten, who led the state in home runs coming out of Eastern Wayne last year, is a freshman starter for the Pirates and currently leads them in home runs. Tyler Joyner, who piled up 30 wins hurling for the Northern Nash Knights, is in ECU's bullpen as a freshman.

Whit Merrifield, named for one of his dad's best friends, former Gryphon standout athlete Dee Whitley, is a junior outfielder for the Gamecocks, has been one of USC's most consistent performers the last two seasons. He played at Davie County.

I really shudder to think If their wives had made these dadies stay in Rocky Mount!

(Pictured, top to bottom, John Wooten, Tyler Joyner, Whit Merrifield)