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SHALLOTTE—After winning 19 games and reaching the third round of the state playoffs a year ago, West Brunswick High School’s baseball team is aiming even higher in 2008.
Coach Mike Alderson said this year’s talented, deep and experienced club could be the one that finally gives West Brunswick its first Mideastern 3A/4A Conference championship in a varsity sport.
“I think we have the opportunity to win the conference outright and that’s our first goal,” Alderson said.
“Before we leave the Mideastern we can say that the baseball program out here has won a conference championship. That’s going to be our goal and we’ve got two years to do it. I don’t see why we can’t do it this year.”
Alderson is beginning his 19th season as baseball coach at West Brunswick and has welcomed back all but three players from a team that finished 6-6 in the league and 19-7 overall.
The Trojans made it to the third round of 3A playoffs before losing 10-9 to eventual state champion C.B. Aycock. Nine players off last year’s team are back for another run.
West Brunswick has six senior ball players, led by pitchers Aaron Evans (7-4 record, 2.85 ERA, 71 strikeouts in 2007) and Ethan Cox (3-1 record, 2.41 ERA, 40 strikeouts).
The other seniors are outfielder Joey Granados (.308 average, multiple game-winning hits), infielder Evan Ponds, pitcher/first baseman Zach Spivey and outfielder Seth Roberts.
West Brunswick’s loaded junior class includes four returning starters—shortstop Pat Kamfolt (.313 average, 33 runs), second baseman Wally Kamfolt (.329 average, 13 RBIs), centerfielder Ryan Hill (.283 average, 22 runs) and catcher Josh Powell (.357 average).
Most of West Brunswick’s remaining players were promoted from a junior varsity team that won the Mideastern Conference championship and went 16-3 overall in 2007.
They include juniors Brock Holmes, Logan Tripp, Jordan Buffkin, Blain Turner, Alex Memory, Tripp Bartholomew and Randy Daniels and sophomore Jay Gause.
“I think we’ll be pretty good defensively,” said Alderson, who has a 241-193 coaching record at West Brunswick, including a state 3A championship in 2004.
“Offensively, I think we’ll come around. It may take us a little bit. We don’t have the offensive power the ‘04 squad had, but one through nine we’re going to put the ball in play.”
Baseball always comes down to pitching, and Alderson is satisfied that his team will be fine in that department. Joining Evans and Cox on the hill will be Spivey, Holmes, Memory, Daniels and Gause.
“It’s the deepest pitching staff we’ve ever had. We’ve got five guys right now throwing it 80-plus,” he said.
Alderson said he doesn’t think this team will have designated No. 1 and No. 2 starters like most high school clubs.
“We’ll probably have a 1-2-3-4 punch this year,” he said. “One thing’s for sure, if one of them goes out there and has a bad day I can go to the stable real quick.”
West Brunswick has a couple of holes to fill. The Trojans lost last year’s best all-around player, Jeremy King, to graduation, along with outfielder Noah Hawkins and catcher Uriah Wilson.
King was named 2007 Brunswick County player of the year after hitting .400 with eight doubles, five home runs and 31 RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA and 54 strikeouts.
King and Hawkins—who batted .368, with 13 stolen bases, 17 RBIs and 24 runs scored—are playing baseball at Brunswick Community College.
The Trojans should be able to replace their production. Most of the varsity squad played on West Brunswick’s Junior American Legion team last summer that went 30-4 and advanced to the state tournament.
“Last year they played right at 70 games. They’ve played together, they’ve worked together and they’ve had a lot of success,” Alderson said.
“Our goal this year is to win 20-plus games. I know the boys are already talking about winning 20-plus regular-season games. That would be a record.”
Doug Rutter is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org