Hometown heroes: College baseball preview 2021 – 92 players to take the field, including 3 for Belmont Abbey’s weekend season-opener

Lane Hoover is a sophomore outfielder at East Carolina. [ecupirates.com photo]
By Richard Walker
Three local products will help Belmont Abbey open their 2021 baseball season this weekend in a pair of doubleheaders at Conference Carolinas rival Chowan.

The Crusaders, picked third in the league preseason poll behind nationally-ranked North Greenville and Mount Olive, visit Chowan for doubleheaders that begin at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Playing this season for the Abbey are senior pitcher Dylan Smith, a 2015 Forestview High graduate, junior pitcher Mitchell Keener (North Lincoln 2018) and senior pitcher Sam High (West Lincoln 2016).

Smith, Keener and High are three of 76 local products playing college baseball this season. Here are the others:

Anderson: Nathan Ledford (Gaston Christian 2019) is a sophomore pitcher and Justin Helms (Forestview 2017) a senior pitcher-outfielder.

Appalachian State: Evan Mauldin (South Point 2018) is a sophomore pitcher, Dalton Williams (North Gaston 2018) a sophomore outfielder and Austin Primm (North Gaston 2018) a junior pitcher. Also, the Mountaineers’ head coach is former Belmont Abbey College and Gaston Braves Post 144-266 American Legion head coach Kermit Smith.

Averett: Jason Maggs (Stuart Cramer 2018) is a junior outfielder.

Brevard: Zane Beaver (Cherryville 2018) is a junior pitcher and Cameron Cook (Stuart Cramer 2020) a freshman pitcher.

Caldwell Community College: Seth Willis (West Lincoln 2019), Bradley Jordan (Burns 2020) and Noah Wallace (North Gaston 2020) are freshman pitchers, Denver’s Darien Farley a freshman infielder, John Melton (Kings Mountain 2019) a freshman pitcher-outfielder, Tyler Bradley (North 2018) a freshman outfielder, Michael McRorie (Mountain Island Charter 2020) a freshman first baseman and Logan Russell (East Gaston 2019) a freshman infielder.

Campbell: Lawson Harrill (Crest 2019) is a freshman pitcher-outfielder and Tyler McPeak (North Lincoln 2018) a freshman catcher.

Dylan Smith

Carson-Newman: Jackson Harbin (Forestview 2019) is a sophomore pitcher and Spencer Bright (Lincoln Charter 2019) and Dylan Dodson (Lincoln Charter 2019) sophomore catchers.

Catawba: Jackson Finger (North Gaston 2020) is a freshman infielder, Bryson Linkous (Stuart Cramer 2018) a sophomore pitcher and Robbie Cowie (Lincolnton 2018) a sophomore pitcher-outfielder.

Catawba Valley Community College: Cherryville’s Brett Eurey is a sophomore outfielder, Preston Conner (South Point 2019) a freshman third baseman, Zach Summerville (North Gaston 2019) a freshman pitcher-outfielder and Cooper Sain (Cherryville 2019) a freshman pitcher.

Chattanooga State Community College: Jared Emory (Cherryville 2019) is a freshman third baseman.

Cleveland Community College: Michael Greene (Crest 2020) is a freshman outfielder, Zachary Wilson (Burns 2020) a freshman catcher, Avery Bridges (Burns 2020) a freshman pitcher, Noah Sigmon (East Lincoln 2020) a freshman utility player, Riley Cash (Crest 2020) a freshman infielder and Dylan Arms (North Gaston 2020) a freshman pitcher.

Coastal Carolina: Noah Eaker (Cherryville 2017) is a junior pitcher.

Coker: Evan Pawlowski (East Lincoln 2018) is a junior catcher.

College of Charleston: Former Stuart Cramer standout Preston Hall is a freshman infielder for head coach Chad Holbrook (1989).

Duke: Josh Jordan (Hunter Huss 1998) is an assistant coach.

East Carolina: Lane Hoover (Lincolnton 2018) is a sophomore infielder, C.J. Mayhue (Crest 2019) a freshman pitcher and Matt Bridges (Crest 2015) a senior pitcher.

Guilford: Adam Anderson (North Gaston 2019) is a sophomore pitcher-outfielder, Stanley’s Casey Hagaman a freshman pitcher and Allden Horne (East Lincoln 2019) a sophomore infielder.

Guilford Tech: Trevor Nanney (Crest 2019) is a freshman pitcher.

Lenoir-Rhyne: David Bell (Kings Mountain 2019) is a freshman infielder, Thomas Mullinax (Burns 2017) a sophomore pitcher, Joey Cobb (North Lincoln 2019) a freshman pitcher and John Grigg (Burns 2016) a junior pitcher.

Noah Eaker

Limestone: Garrett Sutton (Foresview 2016) is a junior pitcher and Alec Seaward (Kings Mountain 2017) a senior pitcher. Also, former Gastonia Grizzlies manager Chris Wiley is the Saints’ head coach.

Methodist: Wesley Hall (Stuart Cramer 2018) is a junior infielder.

Mount Olive: Matt Stokes (Lincoln Charter 2017) is a junior outfielder.

North Carolina A&T: Grant Tilley (South Point 2017) is a sophomore infielder and Timothy Davila (South Point 2017) a junior pitcher.

Pfeiffer: Alec Bell (Kings Mountain 2018) is a junior infielder, Jacob Landis (South Point 2019) a sophomore pitcher, Ben Bowman (South Point 2018) a junior outfielder, Dakota Caughey (Forestview 2018) a junior pitcher-outfielder, Dylan Izzi (Crest 2017) a senior pitcher, Nate Callahan (Lincoln Charter 2019) a sophomore utility player and Carter Merrill (Stuart Cramer 2020) a freshman catcher. Also, Craig Bolton (Crest 2011) is the Falcons’ first-year head coach and Brandon Holden (North Gaston 2016) is a student manager.

Queens: Riley Cheek (Crest 2018) is a sophomore infielder-outfielder, Nick Melton (Crest 2018) a sophomore infielder, Christian Huggins (East Gaston 2015) a senior pitcher and Daniel Bagwell (Kings Mountain 2018) a sophomore pitcher. Also, first-year Royals’ head coach Ross Steedley is a former Gardner-Webb assistant coach.

Rockingham Community College: Zach Bennett (Lincoln Charter 2017) is a sophomore pitcher, Nick Womack (Lincoln Charter 2019), Hunter Lail (Burns 2019), Tyler Cox (East Lincoln 2019) and Trenton Wood (East Lincoln 2019) are freshman pitchers and Gabe Duncan (East Lincoln 2019) and Dylan Mauldin (Ashbrook 2019) are freshman outfielders.

Seminole State: Mike Nicholson (Bessemer City 1979) is the head coach.

Spartanburg Methodist: Dosi Jonas (East Gaston 2018) is a sophomore infielder.

Surry Community College: Mitchell Picton (Lincoln Charter 2019) is a sophomore outfielder.

Tusculum: Cherryville’s Wes Reynolds is a junior outfielder, Jordan Beaver (North Gaston 2016) is a senior catcher and Colson Miller (Burns 2018) is a sophomore infielder.

Riley Cheek

UNC-Asheville: Fermin Osio (North Gaston 2019) is a sophomore infielder and Bryce Fisher (Kings Mountain 2020) a freshman pitcher.

Wake Tech: Tyler Sellers (Mountain Island Charter 2020) is a freshman catcher-third baseman.

Wingate: Brett Walls (Cherryville 2020) and Austin Mitchell (North Gaston 2018) are freshman pitchers and Logan McNeely (Crest 2017) is a sophomore catcher.