Slugger Breasseale Named All-State
Union Pines baseball had plenty to celebrate during its end-of-season banquet last week.
Four Viking players were all-conference selections, including senior Carson Kelly along with juniors Seth Breasseale, Justin Allred and Nic Collins.
Breasseale was selected as the 2011 Cape Fear Valley Conference player of the year for Union Pines and made the 3A all-state team.
The southpaw slugger batted .506 with 14 HR, 49 RBI, 27 runs, and seven doubles. His final on base percentage (OBP) was .596 and he slugged 1.195 for the year.
The home run tally was a new Union Pines’ school record, making Breasseale the 2011 3A division home run king and placing him second overall in long balls hit in the state. He also led the 3A ranks in RBIs, finished second in slugging and fourth in OBP. His RBI and slugging totals were each the third best recorded in the regular season statewide.
“All of the success this year is so surreal,” said Breasseale. “I never would have dreamed of the success and all the recognition I received for it.”
Along with being a six-time MaxPreps player of the week for Union Pines, Breasseale received a spot on the sixth annual International Power Showcase’s 12-man featured lineup, which included high school players from eight different states.
The rising senior was also one of 10 finalists in the running to become the fourth annual N.C. STEP “No Spit” All-Star of the Year.
“All the accolades and awards are awesome to have,” admitted Breasseale, “but for me it’s not about the awards and recognitions — it never was. I just wanted to be a contributor to my team and help the guys I’ve grown up playing baseball with since elementary school have the best chance we could at succeeding in the sport we all love.”
Union Pines head coach Chad Hill feels Breasseale’s season is a true example of the benefits of hard work and determination.
“Seth was one of the hardest workers on our team,” Hill said, “and it was great to see him rewarded with what is probably one of the best seasons in Union Pines school history.
“He takes each day, practice, rep and at-bat with a purpose. He is constantly working on his game to try to out-do what he did the day before. He is a fierce competitor, which I think fueled us this season because he made the guys around him work harder with the season he was having.”
Union Pines, which led the CFVC standings for much of the season, ultimately finished second to Southern Lee. The Vikes then reached the third round of the state playoffs, their deepest run since joining 3A.
“Looking back on this season, making it to the third round was a great accomplishment for our program,” said Hill.
In his fifth season as the Viking skipper, Hill was named the 2011 Cape Fear Valley Conference coach of the year.
“I definitely owe this award to my great staff and unbelievable players,” said Hill.
“It was a privilege to come out and work with my assistants and to coach this wonderful team,” he said.
Hill admitted that his team’s unity and the work ethic, which it exhibited each practice and game, made the season, “about as fun as it could be.”
“I had 15 great guys and three great assistants who came to practice with a purpose every day,” Hill said, “and as a coach, you cannot ask for anything more.”
Union Pines finished the season at 19-8 overall. The Vikings batted .382 as a team and finished with a total of 44 homers, 251 runs scored and 217 RBIs.
“While this was a great season, we were not satisfied with how our season ended,” Hill said. “So we are using this as our motivation throughout the offseason in getting ready for next year.
“This year’s team had its mind set on making a deep run in the playoffs and I’m positive that next year’s team will try to do everything in their power to get our baseball program even further.”
After topping Ledford 18-17 in the opening round of the playoffs, Union Pines slipped past Chapel Hill 2-1 before losing 6-0 to Asheboro in round three.
“This group amazed me at how close they were,” said Hill. “I’ve never seen a group who liked and enjoyed being around each other so much. Nobody was an outsider and the best thing was that when they left the clubhouse for a game they knew the reason they were there and usually handled their business in the right way.”
One of three seniors along with Gabe Gonzalez and Keaton Thomas, Carson Kelly was the Vikings’ pitching ace for most of the season and tied a school record for wins on the year. He also batted .371 with 29 RBIs and seven homers.
“Carson had a great season in getting us eight big wins and pitching very well in relief in other games,” said Hill. “Gabe was a sparkplug for us. He played CF very well and pitched in tough situations all year long. He was a senior who stepped up and came up big in critical situations this whole season.
“It has been really tough on me and I’m sure that feeling will last for a while when I think about these three that I’m losing. They helped me both from a personal standpoint and from a coaching perspective. They gave their all for this team and myself and I would like to say ‘thank you’ to them for that.”
Both Gonzalez and Thomas earned all-conference honorable mention.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Collins turned in another monster year in his junior campaign, batting .539 with 37 RBIs 18 extra base hits — including nine doubles and seven homers — and 36 runs, while slugging .987 with an OBP of .621.
“Nic is a wonderful kid who just does it all,” said Hill.
Allred anchored the Viking infield with solid play as the starting shortstop. He also closed the season on a two-month tear at the plate and finished the season with batting .486 with 27 RBIs, 37 runs, nine home runs and a .986 slugging percentage.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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