High schools

Stevens: Fuquay-Varina's Senter makes adjustments

May 28, 2013 

Fuquay-Varina coach Milton Senter during the game against Middle Creek

CHRIS ADAMCZYK — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Fuquay-Varina High baseball coach Milton Senter has coached for 37 years and has learned to adapt his methods to his players.

Senter still describes the Bengals’ program as “old school.” He emphasizes the need for a focused work ethic and team unit, but he allows his players a little more room in some things, like their pregame music.

“What I’ve learned is that kids get ready to play in different ways,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a few things.

“If the players are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there and are ready to do what they are supposed to do, we don’t have a problem.”

Fuquay-Varina will play South Mecklenburg in a best-of-3 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A baseball championship series beginning Friday at 8 p.m., at the Carolina Mudcats’ Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

The second game is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m., and third game, if needed, will be at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m.

Senter said regular-season play in the Tri-Nine 4A Conference helped prepare his club for the playoffs.

“Green Hope and Holly Springs were the two best teams we’ve played,” he said. “This is league is just so tough. The league makes teams get better because of the competition.”

Holly Springs and Middle Creek, Tri-Nine members, won the 4A title in 2011 and 2012.

Fuquay returned its three leading hitters, centerfielder Garrett Suggs, an N.C. State recruit; junior shortstop D.J. Burt and junior third baseman Brett Daniels, from last year’s 19-9 club. Senter thought he had the potential for a good team, but there were lots of question marks.

“We were counting on some guys who hadn’t started on the varsity before or faced the kind of pitching we see in this league,” Senter said.

Fuquay’s pitching of Suggs, Daniels and Jordan Bissette has been strong all season and has gotten stronger throughout the season.

“I’m really happy for the kids,” Senter said. “I’m excited for the them. They’ve worked to get here. To me, it’s a blessing.”

Baseball playoffs: In the other NCHSAA baseball playoffs, the 2A series between North Brunswick and Monroe Piedmont is scheduled for Five County Stadium with the first game on Friday at 5 p.m.

The 1A championship between Midway and South Stanly and the 3A series between Greenville Conley and Matthews Weddington will be at Newbridge Bank Park in Greensboro.

Softball playoffs: A pair of traditional N.C. High School Athletic Association powers is in the field for the state softball championships at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek softball complex this weekend.

Alexander Central (31-1), which plays Wake Forest-Rolesville (20-3) for the 4A title, has won seven 4A championships (four slowpitch, three fastpitch) and is making its 11th state finals appearance. The Cougars have won 22 or more games for the past 24 seasons.

Alexander Central coach Monte Sherrill, who also coached at Central Cabarrus, has a 24-year coaching record of 656-58.

South Granville (24-1), which plays West Stanly (26-4) in 2A, also has participated in 17 fastpitch playoffs and is 44-20 (.688). The Vikings also have won seven state titles.

The 3A matchup is Greenville Conley (22-5) vs. Concord Robinson (28-2). In 1A, Robersonville South Creek (22-1) plays West Wilkes (25-3).

All of the games are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m., on Saturday and, if necessary, 2 p.m., on Sunday.

All-state soccer: Undefeated NCHSAA 4A girls soccer champion Green Hope placed defender Sydney Curtis, midfielder Alexis Degler and forward Alexis Shaffer on the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association all-state team.

Other 4A players included Holly Springs Dominique Babbitt, Sanderson’s Olivia Costello, Leesville Road’s Anne Cushman and Kelsy Reeves, Cary’s Bria Dixon, Millbrook’s Rachel Hallman and Jackie Stroud and Apex’s Paige Reckert.

Cardinal Gibbons, the NCHSAA 3A champ, landed Christian Gibbons and Morgan Reid. Chapel Hill’s Alex Kimball also is on the 3A club.

Carrboro’s Caroline Houser and Emma Houser, both juniors, were chosen in 2A and Raleigh Charter’s Alexa Dreyer and Rachel Hammond, plus Durham Science & Math’s Ryan McCord, were 1A selections.

In the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association, Durham Academy’s Frances McDonald and Tara Nager were joined by St. Mary’s Catherine Blair and Cary Academy’s Rebecca Kenney.

Gatorade baseball: Ryder Jones of Boone Watauga is the Gatorade N.C. Baseball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior shortstop batted .461 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI.

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