The Tri-Nine 4-A Conference has been one of the strongest high school baseball leagues in the state in recent years, and the league appears to be just as strong as usual this season.
Holly Springs (9-2, 8-1) has a one-game edge over Athens Drive and a two-game advantage over Fuquay-Varina in the league standings about halfway through the season.
In general, area high school baseball conference races are extremely tight.
"There are good teams everywhere, particularly in this area," Durham Jordan coach Devy Bell said. "Everybody knows the Tri-Nine is loaded. There is some amazing pitching in that league."
Holly Springs' only conference loss was to Athens Drive, 2-1, when the Jaguars' Chris Williams outdueled Holly Springs' Justin Manning by tossing a one-hitter. Green Hope's Max Povse, who is committed to UNC Greensboro, leads the area in strikeouts (63) and recently struck out 18 in a game.
Holly Springs has one of the deepest staffs in the state, though.
"Pitching has been our strong point," Hawks coach Rod Whitesell said.
Carlos Rodon, an N.C. State recruit, is 3-0 with two shutouts and a no-hitter in league play. He has 45 strikeouts. The Hawks' David Hudspeth also is 3-0, and Manning is 2-1.
"The team is coming along nicely, but we need to hit the ball a lot better as we go back through the conference," Holly Springs coach Rod Whitesell said. "Our pitching has been really strong. We just need to be able to score some more runs. Our seniors have competed and helped us pull out some close ones with very clutch plays."
Rodon and Jesse Sykes are hitting around .350.
Holly Springs plays Fuquay-Varina on Thursday and faces Athens Drive on May 5.
Clayton, East Wake on top: Clayton (10-3) and East Wake (9-3) have one league loss apiece in the Greater Neuse River 4-A. East Wake won the head-to-head matchup 11-2 but dropped a league game to West Johnston 9-8.
"We've swung the bats really well, and we've played pretty good defense," East Wake coach Kerry Kincaid said. "Our pitching is not overwhelming, but we throw strikes, and we're averaging about one error per game."
Catcher Taylor Griswold leads the attack with a .540 average, four home runs and 20 RBIs. Wes Luck has 18 RBIs and is hitting .450. Jason Shirley carries a .400 average.
Collectively the team is hitting .330. "We hit about .230 as a team last year," Kincaid said. "We're hitting the ball up and down the lineup."
Christian Neal is 4-1 as a pitcher, and Jonathan Waszak is 3-1 with 52 strikeouts.
"The key for us has been getting out of trouble and not having an inning where we give up a ton of runs," said Clayton coach Stacey Houser.
Jason Creasey, an N.C. State recruit, and Evan Phillips lead the Comets pitching staff. Offensively, first baseman Taylor Davis and left fielder Josh Canite have helped carry the load.
Clayton and East Wake play their rematch on May 3 at East Wake.
Wolverines hold lead: Wakefield (10-2, 7-1 Cap Eight 4-A) needs to play better, according to coach Ed Hall.
Broughton and Leesville Road have two losses apiece.
Vance Vizcaino (.484) and Courtney Crews (.389) lead the Wolverines' attack. Lee Yates has a 3-0 pitching record with a 1.38 ERA, and Ravi Patel is 5-1 with a 3.84 ERA. Freshman Evan Brabrand has three saves to go with a 0.93 ERA.
Person tops PAC Six: Roxboro Person leads a tight Piedmont Athletic 4-A race ahead of Durham Jordan, Durham Riverside and East Chapel Hill.
Jordan (13-2) has been the league's most impressive team but has lost to Riverside 3-1 and to Person 4-2.
Third baseman Alex Raburn leads Jordan with a .574 average with six home runs and 21 RBIs. Marcus Koeneke is hitting .500, and Tim Hampton (.458) has 18 RBIs.
Vikings top Carolina 10: South Granville (11-4) is undefeated in the Carolina 10 1-A/2-A, and Pittsboro Northwood, Cedar Ridge and Carrboro have two conference losses each.
South Granville coach Kevin Ferrell said this team is among the youngest that he has ever coached, but the club has shown power by hitting 23 home runs in 15 games.
Junior infielder Matthew Fuhr leads the team with a .600 batting average, with two home runs and 18 RBIs. Junior Zack Cooper has a .509 mark with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. Junior shortstop Adam Daniel is hitting .442, and sophomore second baseman Houston Anderson is hitting .426.
Cooper is 3-1 as a pitcher with a 2.48 ERA, while Fuhr is 4-0 with a 3.23 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
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