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Baseball returns to Rose with start of Coastal Plains fall baseball league

MON. | 11-2-20 | SPORTS

     This fall at Guy Smith Stadium, high school baseball in Greenville has finally made it’s return in the form of the Coastal Plains fall baseball league (CPL). Although there have been a few things tweaked to satisfy the COVID-19 restrictions, there is still a glimpse of normalcy to be found within the CPL. The CPL began nine years ago as a way for high school players to get live reps in a low pressure setting. It has since become one of the biggest fall baseball leagues in North Carolina. Participants in the CPL include Rose, DH Conley, Ayden Grifton, Farmville Central, North Pitt, Washington, Green Central, South Lenoir and North Lenoir. 

     The most prominent feature of the league has been the opportunity given to freshman and sophomores in allowing them to adjust to the high level of play in high school. Rose sophomore Joe Joe Byrne, will be playing in his second season in the CPL this fall. 

    “As a freshman, there was a big adjustment to be


Photo by Jackson Surles

made; it was night and day going from playing against seventh graders to playing against juniors and seniors,” Byrne said. “There is a learning curve that makes you increase your level of play really fast when you make a jump like that and it has helped me tremendously as I am still shaping the player I want to be as a junior and senior contributing on varsity.” 

     As well as helping the younger players adjust, the CPL also has upsides for older players.  Senior pitcher Carson Everette will be playing his fourth season this fall in the CPL. The league has continued to help him through high school now that he is one of the leaders on the field controlling the pace of play. 

     “As a senior pitcher playing showcase baseball on the weekends and trying to be recruited to play at the next level in college, I enjoy pitching in the fall league during the week.” Everette said. “It gives me the opportunity to pitch against guys I am familiar with and focus more on specific aspects of my pitching and work on certain things with less pressure, compared to the weekends where my focus is to just pitch to the best of my ability,” Everette said.

     Athletic director and varsity baseball head coach Coach Clay Medlin has been at the forefront of organizing and running this league since its creation nine years ago. However, it’s no secret that the preparation for this fall was going to be different. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced Medlin to enforce certain safety regulations. 

     “We’re having to limit fan attendance, and we had to get waivers signed from outside teams so they could come play, if a COVID case has popped up we have to quarantine guys,” Medlin said. “It’s certainly different than what we have been used to for the past eight falls, but we are making the adjustments necessary whether it is not allowing players to share equipment or not using the same game balls for each game.”

     Last school year, the spring baseball season was cut shorts due to COVID-19 safety concerns. For the same reason, summer ball was delayed. Because of this, the level of play in the CPL is not where it usually is. As games have progressed, players and coaches have gotten back into their groove and are beginning to focus and prepare for season ahead. 

     Last year’s varsity team finished with a 5-1 record, being one of the top teams in the state before the season abruptly came to an end. This year’s team has high expectations as most of last season’s starters are returning.

     “We expect to have a really good team this year, we expect to not only be a contender for the conference title, but for the eastern regional title, and hopefully the state title as well,” Medlin said. “I think we definitely have the ability to get there and things have to fall into place a little bit, with baseball you always need a little bit of luck to fall your way but we think we have a good chance to be playing late into June.”

     The Rampants are using the CPL as an opportunity to prepare for their spring season. They want nothing less than to be holding the 3A State Championship trophy high when the season ends next June.

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