Three area baseball players had the opportunity to play in the Powerade State Games last weekend.
More than 85 athletes attended tryouts, held on April 21 and 28. Western Harnett pitcher Bradley Wilson, Harnett Central short stop Jared Raynor and Triton outfielder Colton Neighbors were selected to join a regional team of 20 to play in Greensboro from June 13-17.
The Region 4 high school baseball team, coached by Chad Hill of Scotland County, Samuel Thorndyke of Fairmont, Christopher Dague of Jack Britt and Lance Honeycutt of Harnett Central played in three games in as many days.
At 10 a.m. on day one, June 15, they won 3-0 over Region 7 at UNCG Baseball Stadium. The next day, at 3:45 p.m., Region 4 fell to Region 6, 3-0. At 11:15 a.m. on day three, June 17, they traveled to Grimsley High School to face Region 1, losing, 5-4.
Before four days of tournament-style scrimmages, there was a scout day, on which players like Wilson, Raynor and Neighbors ran, threw and hit for college and professional scouts. Outfielders threw from the outfield to home base, so scouts could gage their arm strength. Infielders threw across the diamond and catchers threw to second base. All Region 4 players got 10 swings from head coach Chad Hill.
Hill, who’s coached in seven Powerade State Games, offered brief evaluations on the three local baseball standouts.
Of Triton High School Hawks outfielder Colton Neighbors, Hill said he played “outstanding defensively,” and has “very good speed in the outfield.”
Of Harnett Central Trojans infielder Jared Raynor, Hill said he played “very good defense at second and third base,” and he “swung the bat very well.”
Of Western Harnett Eagles pitcher Bradley Wilson, Hill said he started the first game. “His (velocity) and off-speed pitches were very good,” he said. “The umpire kind of squeezed him.” His coach said Wilson either threw by batters for swinging strikeouts, or they would hit short pop fly singles. Wilson pitched in relief on day three and was in line for the win, but was pulled from the game after reaching his pitch count limit. The Powerade State Games requires all athletes to play in every game, and pitchers are allowed no more than four innings of work, so the professional and collegiate scouts can see more pitchers on the mound.
Hill said collegiate scouts can ask coaches for players’ phone numbers and speak to them within the scope of NCAA rules. If interested in a high school player at the games, professional scouts will hand or send the player a formal questionnaire for them to complete and keep on file.
Hill received requests for Wilson’s phone number from Campbell University, UNC Charlotte and Liberty University. The 6-foot-7-inch pitcher threw 88 mph, and, according to the coach, “Division 1 scouts were very interested in him.”
Hill relishes the chance to talk with the players he’s coached against and learn about who they are, and he enjoys the time spent talking to and learning from other area coaches.
“This is a great opportunity to meet the kids that we competed against, and learn about their personalities,” he said.