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Spring 2017

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Friday, March 10, 2017 Goldsboro News-Argus — 7 Spring Creek High School • GATORS HEAD COACH: HEATH WHITFIELD • CAROLINA 1-A • 2016 RECORD: 19-7 News-Argus/CASEY MOZINGO The 2017 Spring Creek High School varsity baseball team PLAYER POS. YR. 1 Levi Miller OF Sr. 2 Matt Dupuy IF/P Sr. 3 Dylan Paulk U Fr. 4 Chris Yarbrough IF/P Jr. 5 Travis Brown U Fr. 6 Casey Whitfield OF/P Jr. 7 Jake Edens U Jr. 8 Seth Johnson U Fr. 9 Jensen Barwick U So. 10 Landon Smothers IF/P So. 11 Kaden Geelen IF/P Sr. 12 Kevin Grady IF So. 13 Austin Reynolds OF/P Sr. 14 Jordan Ammons IF/P So. 15 Aaron Ward U Fr. 16 Josh Lebron IF Jr. 18 Robert Rogers OF Sr. 2017 ROSTER RESULTS OPPONENT SCORE at North Lenoir L, 3-5 East Wake Academy W, 16-0 (5) Southern Wayne L, 6-11 Greene Central L, 5-7 REMAINING SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT March 9 at Lakewood* March 10 North Lenoir March 14 Hobbton* March 16 Neuse Charter* March 17 at Greene Central March 21 at Princeton* March 23 Rosewood* March 28 at James Kenan* March 30 at North Duplin* April 3 at Neuse Charter* April 4 Lakewood* April 6 at Hobbton* April 13 Eastern Wayne April 21 at Princeton# April 22 at Princeton* April 25 Princeton* April 27 at Rosewood* May 2 James Kenan* May 4 North Duplin* END OF REGULAR SEASON * — Carolina 1-A games # — Deacon Jones Invitational 2017 SCHEDULE By BEN COLEY bcoley@newsargus.com SEVEN SPRINGS — Winning a conference title isn't an easy task. Winning back-to-back takes major guts. But three in a row — well, that's just down- right unbelievable. "That would be, as of right now, very far- fetched," said Gators' head coach Heath Whit- field. "Of course I didn't think it was going to hap- pen last year if you asked me the same point in time last year. The guys just came together and completely surprised me." Spring Creek has spent the past two seasons firmly on the throne of the Carolina 1-A Confer- ence. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons com- bined, the Gators went 25-3 in conference games. Those two runs were followed by consecutive trips to the N.C. High School Athletic Associa- tion eastern regional semifinals — six playoff wins in total. Whitfield simply described the team as a group of winners who did all the things it takes to win baseball games. "Pitchers threw strikes, we made routine plays defensively, we put the ball in play on offense and made the other team make mis- takes and we ran the bases really well," Whit- field said. "Those things right there add up to a lot of wins and few losses if you can do that." Whitfield noted the Gators had much experi- ence returning to the field entering last sea- son. That won't be the case this year, both on the pitcher's mound and in the batter's box. The Gators lost three key players to gradua- tion, all of whom play collegiate baseball. Will Rouse and Hunter Walker both play for Lenoir Community Col- lege. In the 2016 season, Rouse posted a 9-1 record and 1.66 earned run average (ERA). He also batted .309 with 14 RBI. Walker batted .392, posted 14 RBI and struck out only seven times in 91 plate appearances. Sawyer Smith — who won the starting short- stop job at Averett Uni- versity this spring — batted .318 and led the team with 20 RBI and five doubles. The trio left gaping holes in the Gators' line- up. According to Whit- field, there really isn't a big enough patch to cover up those spaces. "Well, there really is no plan to replace those guys," Whitfield said. "They've meant so much to us. I mean they just did a great job on and off the field with leadership and everything. They just played the game the right way." The veteran coach believes sophomore Lan- don Smothers and senior Matt Dupuy will provide a boost for the team as hitters and pitchers. There's also catcher Kaden Geelen, who recently signed to play at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Whitfield hopes the batting and defense will be balanced, but says games will be won or lost based on pitching. Over the last two seasons, the Gators have allowed 1.73 runs per game in confer- ence play. "If our pitching doesn't get where it needs to be, we're going to struggle," Whitfield said. "If it does, then we may surprise some people." The most offensively prolific returner is 5-foot- 8, 140-pound Levi Miller. Last season, he batted .353 and led the team with 18 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Whitfield said Miller can play in either the outfield or infield, and will bat either first or second in the lineup. "I expect Levi to be great," Whitfield said. "He's solid. He's just a solid ball player... Just a solid, solid player...He's a dirtbag — he's the dirtiest player after every game. He has the dirtiest uniform and just dives around. He just hustles. He gives you everything he's got." Miller, along with sen- ior Robert Rogers, may also provide the much- needed role of vocal leader since most of the Gators prefer to lead by example. The Gators' skipper prefers to see that type of leadership grow as the season wears on. "We preach that every year," Whitfield said. "A lot of them go out here and work hard every day, but they're not rah-rah type of guys. They don't talk that much, but somebody has to do it. Someone has to step up and be that guy." Whitfield dismissed the notion that this year's team feels pres- sure to replicate the suc- cess of the past two sea- sons. He wants his group to focus on this spring. Not the absence of past players, the trophies or past victories. Just simply, the 2017 Spring Creek Gators. "It's a different team," Whitfield said. "I told them they have to make their own identity. They can't live off what the other teams did. I think this team has got to make their own mark and do their own thing." KNOCK HIDDEN FEES OUT COLD. Including Unlimited Data for just $40/mo. New Total Plans with no hidden fees. – With 4 lines – Taxes and certain charges such as RCRF and USF apply. No Data Overage Charges. No Activation Fees. No Monthly Connection Charges. 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