Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Six returning players who have already completed their high school careers boost hopes for the 2019 Wilson Post 13 American Legion baseball team that will again compete in the Area I East Division.
Back are pitcher-shortstop Dom Gaetano of Hunt High, pitcher Tyler Wells of Hunt, pitcher-infielder-outfielder Josh Fuller of Hunt, first baseman-catcher Jackson Terry of Fike, infielder-pitcher Trevor Mills of Fike and pitcher-outfielder Matt Raynor of SouthWest Edgecombe.
Mills and Wells continued their careers at Barton College, while Chowan University was the next stop for Terrry. Raynor landed at Lenoir Community College, while Fuller enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Gaetano expects to play at Wake Tech next season.
In addition, newcomer Payton Bass, a product of Nash Central High, played at Barton; and Rocky Mount High’s Jamar Ellis continued his career at Greensboro College.
“Pretty good,” second-year head coach Noah Edens said of Post 13 prospects. “We’re talented. Offensively, we should be better and, defensively, we are very sound. Starting pitching is a concern, but we have a lot of options.”
Post 13 opened its season last Friday with a 2-1 loss to Fuquay-Varina Post 116. Wilson is scheduled to launch Area I East play at Farmville Post 151 at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Post 13 plays its first home game in Fleming Stadium on June 3.
Wilson is coming off a 10-12 showing in 2018 that saw it reach the Area I East finals with a 3-0 series loss to Pitt County Post 39.
“I hope it’s going to be better,” Edens remarked.
Edens is “sitting on ready to win” and he hopes his team is equally as hungry. Edens’ 2018 team lost its last game; his 2019 Beddingfield High varsity team failed to win a game; and Post 13 has started 0-1 in 2019.
“We have a couple extra (players) from last year,” Edens noted of the 19-member roster, “and the good news is that, right now, we have a lot of options. A month from now, it might be a different story.”
Edens explained more emphasis has been placed upon encouraging players to make arrangements to be available for the entire season, but added: “I know things will come up.”
The latest Post 13 edition is drawing players from Hunt, Fike, Beddingfield, North Johnston, SouthWest Edgecombe, Rocky Mount, Rocky Mount Academy and Nash Central.
Hunt is represented by Gaetano, Wells, Fuller and recent graduate Trey Dail. Fuller will be joining the team at June’s outset. Mills, Terry, Zach Pittman, Mason Lee, Tanner Sullivan, Connor Jinks and Tyler Batten hail from Fike. Austin Slate is Beddingfield’s lone contribution.
Completing the roster: Ty Narron from North Johnston, Raynor, Alex Ortiz and Kevin Braswell from SouthWest; Ellis from Rocky Mount, Will Stewart from North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A champion Rocky Mount Academy and Bass from Nash Central. Stewart, a third baseman-catcher-pitcher, has signed with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Mills, Fuller, Raynor, a left-hander, are the top candidates as starting pitchers. Edens anticipates a closing role for Gaetano and Wells. Other available arms are Pittman, Jinks, Ortiz, Stewart and Batten, a left-hander.
Sullivan, Pittman, Lee and Jinks led Fike to the fourth round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.
Slate, Terry and Stewart man the catching position, while Sullivan and Terry are available at first base. Narron, Mills and Fuller all could see action at second base, while Gaetano and Pittman will be stationed at shortstop. Pittman can also play third base — as can Stewart, Slate and Mills.
Outfield hopefuls are Dail, Lee, Ellis, Bass and Braswell. Lee could also see infield duty.
Post 13 collected 11 hits against quality Fuquay-Varina pitching, with Lee rapping three hits and Gaetano a pair. Mills, Raynor and Ortiz saw mound duty.
Critical, Edens contends, is getting in four or five games in May and getting past the Memorial Day weekend and graduation exercises at the various schools.
“There is not a lot of unity yet,” Edens admitted, “but four-five games will get us there pretty quick.”
Wilson is joined by Farmville, Pitt County, Wayne County Post 11, Kinston Post 43, Edenton Post 40 and Ahoskie Post 102 in forming Area I East. Windsor Post 37 has already folded, shrinking the schedule to 16 games.
“Every team we play can beat us,” Edens warned, “but, without a doubt, I think we can beat every team on our schedule. We saw some quality arms against Fuquay-Varina and I feel like they were about as good as anybody we’ll see.
“We have to support the pitchers, pound the strike zone and hit the baseball. I expect us to go out there and compete every game — and challenge for the top spot.”