HUNTERSVILLE – High school baseball teams battled cold and ice to begin the season and rain early this week. In between, they’ve played fairly well heading into next week’s spring break.
Hopewell, North Mecklenburg and Hough are in the thick of the MECKA 4A conference race, which likely won't be decided until the final playing date (April 25) of the regular season. Lake Norman Charter and Community School of Davidson are faring well in their new conferences. SouthLake Christian, the busiest among area teams, sports a winning record. Here’s a rundown:
Hopewell – The Titans (9-2) are on a four-game winning streak. They’re 6-1 in the MECKA 4A conference, a half-game behind leader Kannapolis Brown. Hopewell has been effective hitting and pitching. The team earned run average is 0.84. Tristan Baker is 4-0 with a save. In 27 1/3 innings, he hasn’t allowed an earned run and has struck out 39 batters. Alon Smith has a 1.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Four Titans are hitting better than .400 – Wayne Shaffer (.444), Baker (.435), who also leads the team in RBIs (10) and doubles (four), Drew Goodman (.409) and Sean Carder (.400).
North Mecklenburg – The Vikings (8-4) are 6-2 in the MECKA 4A conference. They’re in third place, but with pitching brothers Ryder and River Ryan, they’ll battle for the top spot. Ryder Ryan, who attracts about a dozen pro scouts to every start, is 3-0 with 53 strikeouts in 30 innings. He threw a no-hitter against East Mecklenburg. River Ryan improved to 2-1 after a complete game victory with 12 strikeouts against Concord Robinson on April 4. He has an 0.53 ERA.
North Meck’s top hitters include Zack Ruttkamp, Leontay Massey, Chris Loll, Michael Coss, Malik Byrd and Stephen Langford.
Hough – The Huskies are 6-5 overall and 4-2 in MECKA 4A, good for fifth place in a tight race. Their four-game winning streak after a 1-3 start got them on the right track. Hough’s top player has been senior pitcher/outfielder Justin Baker, who is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA and a .444 batting average. He pitched a three-hit shutout in a key conference win against North Mecklenburg last week. Pitcher Brandon Casas is a Furman signee. The hitting could be better, but Hough will be in the thick of the conference race.
Lake Norman Charter – The Knights are 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big South 2A/3A conference, good for third place. Pitching has keyed most of their success. They have a team ERA of 1.38 and pitchers Steven Farkas (2-1), John Creel (2-2) and Cole Kepley (1-1) each have more strikeouts than innings pitched. The top hitter is Hayden Gregory, who leads the team in batting average (.303), runs (nine), hits (10) and stolen bases (five). Lake Norman Charter hopes to snap a two-game losing streak in an April 10 game at East Gaston.
SouthLake Christian – The Eagles (11-7) are 6-1 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference, second behind leader Covenant Day (9-1). SouthLake’s top hitters are Devin Bagwell (.390 batting average and 22 RBIs), David Stowers (.338 and seven steals) and Riley Zayicek (.353). Bradley Hallman leads the pitching staff with a 3-0 record, 0.91 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.
Davidson Day – The Patriots are 2-5 and have been allowing too many runs. They’ve allowed an average of 7.4 per game, including a season-high 17 in a loss to High Point Christian last week. Silver lining: Davidson Day is 1-1 in the NCISAA Piedmont conference.
Community School of Davidson – The Spartans won big twice last week – 13-1 against Gastonia Highland and 10-3 against Bessemer City – to climb into the Southern Piedmont 1A conference race. They are 4-4 in conference and 5-6 overall. CSD has shown the ability to score plenty, with four games of 10 or more runs.