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Spring 2017

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Friday, March 10, 2017 Goldsboro News-Argus — 3 2036 US 117 South Goldsboro, NC 27530 (919) 947-1224 9DWW0317J A CHEAP RIDE AUTO SALES GOLDSBORO "Lowest Miles In Town" Corner of Ash & Berkeley To PlaceYour Order Call: 919-778-7444 17DSL0316J© S T E A K & M O R E R E S T A U R A N T ® Good To-Go for Busy Nights! When games and practice make dinner time a challenge, grab our home cookin' to go! Goldsboro • COUGARS HEAD COACH: DANNY MERRITT • EASTERN CAROLINA 2-A • 2016 RECORD: 3-18 PLAYER POS. YR. 2 Derek Hill IF/OF Fr. 3 Michael Eltz IF/OF Sr. 4 Matthew Lewis IF/P Fr. 5 Owen Flock IF/OF Jr. 7 Natorian Nobles OF/P Fr. 9 Cameron Roux IF So. 10 Josh Hartsfield IF/P Fr. 11 Amarti Bates IF Sr. 14 Chandler Patrick IF/P Jr. 15 Elijah Curtis IF/OF Jr. 19 Brody Morton IF/P So. 20 Darhonte Henderson U Jr. 21 Jacob Crouse IF So. 24 TyJuwan Barnes IF So. 25 Nicholas Lewis OF/U Fr. 2017 ROSTER RESULTS OPPONENT SCORE at Beddingfield L, 2-10 at Princeton L, 0-16 Hobbton L, 11-19 REMAINING SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT March 8 Princeton March 9 at Jones Senior March 15 Beddingfield March 17 at Hobbton March 21 at E. Wake Academy March 22 Wallace-Rose Hill March 24 James Kenan March 28 North Lenoir* March 31 Kinston* April 4 at South Lenoir* April 7 at Ayden-Grifton* April 11 at Greene Central* April 12 at North Lenoir* April 18 Fayetteville Westover# April 25 at Kinston* April 28 South Lenoir* May 2 Ayden-Grifton* May 4 Greene Central* END OF REGULAR SEASON * — ECC 2-A games # — Doubleheader 2017 SCHEDULE News-Argus/SETH COMBS The 2017 Goldsboro High varsity baseball team By BEN COLEY bcoley@newsargus.com It's not much of a secret. Those who coach or play baseball around Wayne County know that Goldsboro's program hasn't been the same for at least 20 years. They know the Cougars' wins have been few and far between recently. They may even know that four different coaches have led the program in the past five seasons. What they may not know, however, is that progress is being made. Goldsboro skipper Danny Merritt — who also coached from 2002-04 — said it's the first time in 24 years that the program's culture doesn't feel comparable to the Cleveland Browns. When Merritt returned for his second stint as coach in 2015, he said there was not much fanfare over the open position. Now, he believes there's a great interest in the job — and that's because of the kids who are a part of it. "These kids have played baseball their whole lives," Merritt said. "When they hit the field, they understand baseball. It's not going to be where people use the phrase, 'They're good athletes that they put on the field.' These kids are legitimate baseball players." Merritt acknowledged that some players have experienced frustration, but it's more about wanting to meet a higher indi- vidual standard, and not anger toward teammates. The third-year coach noted that each player has a burning passion within themselves. "Everyone out here loves the game," Merritt said. "They self- motivate. There's a good team chemistry…We try to keep everything in perspective. We try to keep it fun. The object of the game is to win, but you go out there and you give it every- thing you've got." It's a group that will look to change perception and erase previous years. The Cougars won three games in the 2016 season — a modest total at first glance. But Goldsboro hasn't won that many games in at least a decade. One of those wins came against Kinston, which gave the Cougars their first confer- ence victory since 2010. "They realized that was our first conference victory in a while," Merritt said. "But this team is different. They have different goals. Any team's goal is to come out and win the con- ference. So we go from there." Merritt said the team doesn't think much about what hap- pened last season, but the coach said there were two key players whose contribution couldn't be forgotten. Seniors Tommy Vick and Johnny Stevens spearheaded the 2016 campaign. Vick batted .353, while Stevens recorded a .340 average. No one else on the team hit better than .250. They were the pillars of the team. Merritt believes they paved the future for the younger play- ers. "(Vick and Stevens) were excellent baseball players, and they provided tremendous lead- ership," Merritt said. "They laid the foundation. And I think we'll continue to build on it. We have kids that aren't really boisterous or loud, but they lead by example." That process will start with junior Chandler Patrick, the pitcher responsible for two of Goldsboro's three wins last sea- son. He tallied a save in the third win, as well. Following him in the rotation will be freshman Matthew Lewis, who impressed in the summer league, according to Merritt. Other arms include sopho- more Brody Morton, freshman Natorian Nobles and sopho- more Cameron Roux. Patrick, Morton, Lewis and Nobles are expected to be the primary batters in the Cougars' lineup. "Our pitchers will be around the plate. They're not going to overpower people," Merritt said. "We stress defensively sound baseball. Offensively, we'll be a team that manufac- tures runs. We believe in the philosophy, 'Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in.'" More than half the roster is comprised of freshman and sophomores, but Merritt believes the leadership will emerge as they progress into the season. He said success can't always be measured in wins and losses, but he expects Goldsboro to be a competitive team in the 2017 season. Merritt wants this year's players to fight through the losses, and show they are capa- ble of much more than past seasons. "That's a trademark of these kids," Merritt said. "They've battled adversity their whole careers. Nobody expects them to do a whole lot, but they show a lot of character." Merritt: Knowledgeable players give program a boost ■ Latest edition of Cougars has high aspira- tions — as individuals and as a team. From staff reports KINSTON — Turn the lights back on at historic Grainger Stadium. The Down East Wood Ducks, the Single-A affil- iate of the Texas Rangers, open play at historic Grainger STadi- um on April 3 with an exhibition game against perennial Division II col- legiate powerhouse Uni- versity of Mount Olive. The Ducks officially launch their 2017 regu- lar-season campaign three days later at Car- olina League foe Salem. The home opener is April 10 against Win- ston-Salem. That three- game series begins a stretch of seven consecu- tive home dates that includes a four-game bat- tle with Salem. Down East will host 73 games at Grainger Stadi- um, one of the oldest minor league ballparks in the nation. Wood Ducks come to town ■ Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers to play at historic Grainger Stadium. Photos submitted The Goldsboro High baseball field underwent a makeover during the offseason. Jerry Narron, the new bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, along with family, friends and community supporters worked on various aspects of the field to get it ready for this spring. More improvements are on the way.

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