Pitching duel very possible
By Steve Behr
It seems that there is an endless supply of hard-throwing pitchers at South Caldwell.
Following in the grand tradition of Madison Bumgarner and, Jake Poovey and Jimmy Messer, the Spartans are very likely to throw Cody Penny Tuesday night when they play at Watauga in an early Northwestern 4-A Conference showdown at Watauga’s field.
It will be Senior Night for Watauga. It’s an occasion usually reserved for the final home game of the season, but moved up to Tuesday night to accommodate Will Dicus, who has been battling a longtime illness.
There are 11 other seniors who will be honored. One is pitcher Jon Sharpe, who can also throw pretty hard.
Both he and Penny, who has committed to North Carolina, can hit 90 miles-per-hour on the radar gun.
Both have something in common. Neither has really had a chance to pitch much this spring. Sharpe threw two innings in Watauga’s 3-0 victory over North Davidson last Friday, and one inning against Ardrey Kell in an 11-0 loss Saturday.
“We’ve got to be patient against (Penny),” Watauga coach Pete Hardee said. “We can’t chase him out out of the (strike) zone and we’ve got to make him throw strikes. We feel good about having Jon out there and if we can play defense behind him, we’ll be all right.”
Sharpe evolved into one of Watauga’s staff aces last spring. He went 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in school baseball and 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA during the summer.
But pitching is only part of the equation for the Pioneers. Watauga struggled with its bats, even in its win over North Davidson. The Pioneers got a two-run home run from David Martin and a solo shot from Trey Lowder to beat the Knights.
But that was it. Watauga struck out 16 times, a number that won’t help them against South Caldwell.
However, the potential for offense is there. Catcher Adam Church hit .416 last year with five home runs and a .688 slugging percentage last year. He hit over .500 during the NWC season and had 32 hits during the season.
He continued that trend into the summer with a .484 average with 17 RBIs.
Martin hit .375 during summer games, while his older brother, senior Baine Martin, hit .310 last spring with 14 RBIs. He also stole nine bases.