2022 high school baseball previews: Kings Mountain, East Gaston, Cherryville, East Lincoln favorites in 3 local leagues

By Richard Walker

Competitive races are seen in area baseball conference as the 2022 high school baseball season gets underway on Monday.

In the Big South 3A Conference, Kings Mountain is the favorite to unseat three-time defending league champion Crest, which also enters the season with a 29-game winning streak in league games. South Point is also considered a contender in preseason voting by league coaches.

In the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference, league newcomer East Gaston and perennial power Cherryville are co-favorites.

And in the Western Foothills 3A Conference, East Lincoln is favored to win its conference.

Other teams hopeful of having strong seasons include Lincoln Charter and Mountain Island Charter in the first-year Catawba Shores 1A/2A Conference.

Here’s a look, by conference, at each team in Cleveland, Gaston at Lincoln counties:

Big South 3A

Coach: Josh Cobb (13th year, 86-161)
2021 record: 2-12, 2-10
No information provided
All-time record: 547-569-3

Coach: Matt Scholz (2nd year, 6-8)
Assistant coaches: Chris Detweiler, Kelly Womack, Hank Rodkin, Hunter Collier, Eddie Womack, Kent Womack
Returning starters: 6
Starters lost: 4
2021 record: 6-8, 4-8
Returning players: C/OF Julian Hall, SS/3B Mason Craig, P/3B/SS Nathan Brittain, P Hunter Reavis
Top newcomers: C Zach Camacho, IF Ty Detweiler INF
Season outlook: Hall was an all-conference performer for the Storm in 2021.
All-time record: 58-105

Coach: Adam McFarland (1st year)
Assistant coaches: Brandon Powell, Patrick Bowman, Russell Hamrick, Julian Ridings
Returning starters: 5
Starters lost: 5
2021 record: 12-1, 12-0
Returning players: C/P Colby Humphries, IF/P Tucker McSwain, 1B/P Cole Drewery, IF Javarius Green, IF/C Clayton Brown, OF Connor Gantt, 1B Dalton Cooper, OF Zavier Jones, OF Brayden Blaylock, 1B/P Ryan Ropp
Top newcomers: OF Ethan Hayes, 3B/P Tyler Smart, 1B Jude Stillwell, OF Jackson Wilson, P Asher Smith, 1B/P Brett Ledbetter
Season outlook: McFarland, a former Crest player, replaces school’s all-time coaching winner Steven Hodge after he went 338-149-1 in 20 seasons.
All-time record: 758-571-3

Coach: Justin Williams (1st year)
Assistant coaches: Jeff Parker, Coty Phillips, Parker Davis
Returning starters: 6
Starters lost: 8
2021 record: 9-5, 7-5
Returning players: OF/P Landon Jenkins, C/P Jesse Osborne, IF/P Evan Reid, P/IF Tripp Dow, P/IF/OF Cooper Botts, OF Ty Davis
Top newcomers: IF/P Austin Parker, OF/P Jeremiah Massengill, IF/P Ethan Bray, P/IF Josh Clanton, IF Rocco Pavone, IF Hunter Styers, IF Grant Styers, IF/OF Carson Adams
Season outlook: The loss of 10 seniors from last year and a young pitching staff creates a tall task for first-year head coach.
All-time record: 279-236-1

Coach: Mike Micik (4th year, 2-36)
2021 record: 1-12, 0-12
No information provided
All-time record: 433-751-4

Kings Mountain
Coach: Brad Melton (4th year, 30-15)
Assistant coaches: Wil Sellers, Johnny Gamble, Alex Grooms
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 2
2021 record: 11-4, 10-2
Returning players: P/SS Charlie Melton, P/3B Zane Brockman RHP, OF Jacob Hamrick, P Wyatt Davis, P/OF Peyton Fisher, C/OF Cole Irby, P/SS/2B Caleb Broome
Top newcomers: C/IF Ethan Guy, P/1B Jackson Toney, OF Brayden Patrick, 1B/3B Colton Mayes
Season outlook: Seven returning starters, including 2021 Big South pitcher of the year Brockman, give Mountaineers hope of league title.
All-time record: 725-637-2 since 1950 (1st known team is 1921)

North Gaston
Coach: Wes Hepler (3rd year, 11-9)
Assistant coaches: Brent Mellon, Jordan Beaver, Jesse Martin
Returning starters: 5
Starters lost: 3
2020 record: 8-6, 7-5
Returning players: SS Austin Wood, 1B Nate Williams, OF/P Ashton Pope, OF Ryan Propst, C Josh Lemley
Top newcomers: P/3B Kandan Zollo, IF/P Wyatt McSwain, OF Jason Melton, IF Houston Rector
Season outlook: With no returning varsity pitching experience, the Wildcats will look to newcomers to handle mound duties.
All-time record: 611-475

South Point
Coach: Jason Lineberger (16th year, 263-99)
2021 record: 11-5, 9-3
No information provided
All-time record: 839-403


Southern Piedmont 1A/2A

Bessemer City
Coach: Matt Denham (1st year)
2021 record: 2-12, 2-10
No information provided
All-time record: 755-648 since 1946 (1st known team was 1931)

Coach: Alex Leonhardt (5th year, 40-33)
Assistant coaches: Chris White, Wade Walker, Mark Mackall, Brad Hoyle
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 2
2021 record: 4-10, 3-9
Returning players: P/IF Joseph Webb, OF/P Ben Mauney, C Reid Stroupe, IF Cody Mosteller, 1B Jonah McNeilly, IF/P Josh Powell
Top newcomers: SS Colby Putnam
Season outlook: With seven returning starters, Bulldogs look to make improvement this season.
All-time record: 486-607

Coach: Scott Heavner (17th year, 288-122)
Assistant coaches: Seth Freeman, Brian Kiser, Michael Whitesides, A.J. Hayes
2021 record: 14-2, 11-1
Returning players: OF/P Tripp Creason, C Will Fowler, IF/P Landon Hahn, OF Will Heavner, IF Collin Robinson, OF/P Eli Newsome, OF/P Kanon Willis, 3B Chase Miller, P/OF Logan Hendrick
Season outlook: Lots of returnees with experience give Cherryville hopes of making another title run.
All-time record: 1,039-459 since 1954 (1st known team was 1914)

East Gaston
Coach: Randy Sellers (16th year, 153-173)
Assistant coaches: Andy Leigh, Clint Jordan, Dozier Murray
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 2
2021 record: 6-8, 5-7
Returning players: C/P Logan Agosta, OF/P Parker Agosta, IF/P Liam Brady, OF Aiden Cloninger, IF/P Jaxon Cogdill, IF/P Riley Dunlap, IF/P Riley Hawkins, OF Daniel McClellan
Top newcomers: IF/P Bryce Benson, IF Christian Clark, OF Elijah Green, IF/P Gracen Mahadeo, C Ben Summey, IF/P Elijah Sutherland, IF Khiry Wright
Season outlook: A veteran team with seven returning starters and a large senior class give Warriors hope of winning a league title.

Highland Tech
Coach: Kenneth Pasour (3rd year, 7-11)
2021 record: 6-7, 5-7
No information provided
All-time record: 123-275

Coach: Chris Emery (11th year, 75-128)
2021 record: 1-13, 1-11
No information provided
All-time record: 1017-765-4 since 1922 (1st known team in 1916)


Western Foothills 3A

East Lincoln
Coach: Chris Matile (17th year, 244-142)
Assistant coaches: Joshua Robinson, Dan Duckworth, Bill Erickson
Returning starters: 6
Starters lost: 3
2020 record: 15-2, 13-1
Returning players: 2B Garrett Michel, C Graham Smiley, P/SS Isaac Armstrong, P/OF Seth Haigler, P/Utility Logan Palmer, P/1B Gavin Houser, 3B/SS Trey Spees
Top newcomers: P/OF/3B Carson Dahle, OF Landon Burns
Season outlook: Third-round 2A playoff team returns three NCAA Division I signees/commitments in Michel (Virginia Tech), Smiley (N.C. State) and Armstrong (East Carolina)
All-time record: 666-499-1 since 1971 (1st year was 1968)

North Lincoln
Coach: Charlie Goss (1st year)
2021 record: 11-4, 11-3
No information provided
All-time record: 222-202-1


Catawba Valley 2A

Coach: Brad Gates (2nd year, 4-10)
2021 record: 4-10, 4-10
No information provided
All-time record: 512-666-1 since 1963 (1st known team is 1925)

West Lincoln
Coach: John Markley (5th year, 37-40)
2021 record: 2-12, 2-12
No information provided
All-time record: 537-532-6 since 1973 (1st year was 1962)

Catawba Shores 1A/2A

Lincoln Charter
Coach: Scott Clark (7th year, 99-31)
Assistant coaches: Taylor Michel
Returning starters: 4
Starters lost: 5
2021 record: 15-2, 11-1
Returning players: P/SS Mason Smith
Top newcomers: none listed
Season outlook: Smith, an East Carolina commit, returns after 79-strikeout season in 39 innings last year
All-time record: 187-84

Mountain Island Charter
Coach: Raphael Turner (1st year)
Assistant coach: Jim Stegall
2021 record: 13-3, 10-2
Returning players: C/Utility Cole Hart, IF/P Tanner Leeson, OF/Utility Leonard Hadley, IF Jake Barber
Top newcomer: IF Jack Osterndorf
Season outlook: After a school-best advance to Western 1A finals last season, the Raptors return with a new coach and hopes for another impressive year.
All-time record: 47-51


Metro 8 1A

Piedmont Community Charter
Coach: Terry Radford (2nd year, 0-12)
2021 record: 0-12, 0-12
All-time record: 3-86

Metrolina Athletic Conference

Gaston Christian
Coach: A.J. Main (1st year since 1999, 5 years 1994-99, 87-25)
Assistant coaches: Jamie Summerlin, Scott Tyree
Returning starters: 7
Starters lost: 3
2021 record: 9-7, 2-4
Returning players: P/C/SS Chase Stewart, P/CF Myles Gordon, LF/P Aaron Main, P/OF David Moore, P/1B Stephan Stroupe, P/OF Cooper Summerlin, P/1B Cooper Tyree
Top newcomers: P/SS/C David Nicks, 1B/OF Andrew Payton, P/3B Ty Risk, 1B/OF Tucker Payton, 2B Mer Leffew, P/3B/C Carsten Green, OF Patrick Blee, IF/OF/P Destin Faile, OF Jaden Moore, 2B Trevor Baczek
Season outlook: Youthful team has lots of talent for new coach that previously coached Eagles for five years in late 1990s.

Gaston Day
Coach: Chris Carrara (7th year, 29-67)
Assistant coaches: Troy Herterick, Rob Shell
Returning starters: 6
Starters lost: 4
2021 record: 6-12, 1-4
Returning players: SS/P Jason Johnson, P/IF Brett Pressley, 1B/P/OF Carter Roberts, P/IF Elijah Pomeroy, OF Colin Fayed, IF Four Heilig
Top newcomers: P/OF Brody Smith, C Will Herzog, OF/2B Ben Nigbor
Season outlook: Pitching experience gives the Spartans expectation of being competitive.