Most 9-to-5 workers set their summer plans months ago. Some may have already completed them.
Area high school baseball coaches are a different breed. Their annual routines started in February, and games started in early March.
For many of them, their season ended little more than a week ago. Their summer is short. For those who coach “fall” sports, practices begin Aug. 1.
Before then, Orange High’s Dean Dease has a daughter who’s ready to move in at UNC-Wilmington. He also has a beach trip planned with his wife, Jan, and his youngest, Abby, who will start eighth grade at Stanford Middle School next month.
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“It’s a lot of work, said Dease. “It’s also a change.”
The Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League has completed its regular season. The postseason tournament started Thursday in Sanford. The CCSSL All-Star game will be July 27 at Salamander Stadium in Holly Springs.
American Legion baseball maintains a following in the western part of the state. However, the CCSSL has now firmly replaced it as the premier summer development model for the rest of North Carolina. With 95 teams in the senior and junior divisions scattered across the state, the Scholastic Summer League now ranges from Greensboro to New Bern, from Roxboro to Laurinburg.
“As a high school coach, you tell your seniors ‘have a nice life,’ and then you work with the returnees and the kids who moved up from JV and middle school,” said Voyager head coach Pete Shankle.
The CCSSL is broken down into eight divisions, and the eight division champions play in the post-season tournament. Orange and Durham County schools play in the Northwest Division.
Shankle’s Voyager club represented the Northwest in the senior tournament, while Orange’s “Hillsborough Hogs” played in the Northwest’s junior division tournament. (The tournament concluded too late for today’s print edition of The Chapel Hill News, see newsobserver.com this week for results.)
East Chapel Hill’s Black Sox, coached by Matt Russell to a 9-4 record, finished with more wins than any Northwest Division team, but Voyager’s winning percentage (.800) off an 8-2 finish was better than East Chapel Hill’s (.692). Since every team in the division “missed some games due to all the rain” and virtually every team played a different number of games, Shankle noted, win percentage was used to decide the division’s tournament berth.
Orange, which finished third in the Northwest’s senior division at 7-4-1, won a berth in the junior tournament with a 5-4-1 record, after division winner Northwest Guilford (8-5) opted not to travel to Sanford for the two-day event.
While everyone plays to win, the goal for each coach is player development.
For Dease, there’s more to replace for 2017 than any season in his 27 year career.
Ten seniors have graduated. Four-year starter Bryse Wilson, who was selected in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Atlanta Braves last month, left the school as the all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, innings pitches, shutouts and no-hitters. Another four-year starter, catcher Brad Debo, will play at South Carolina next season.
In the unenviable task of trying to fill their shoes will be pitchers Eli Haithcock, Derek Lindaman and Brian Werden.
“They’re three of the guys who will be competing,” said Dease. “There’s more than three.”
As for Debo’s replacement, rising senior Dylan Hall has been a regular behind the plate.
“It’s gonna be almost impossible to replace those two, but we’ve got some guys who are stepping up,” said Dease.