North Moore Gears Up for Busy Spring Season
With the unseasonably warm weather the area has been experiencing lately, it appears Mother Nature is ready for the high schools spring sports to play ball.
Six sports are gearing up to kick off the 2012 spring sport season at North Moore High School this coming week. The Mustang baseball and boys’ tennis teams get the jump on the other sports, with the baseball team hosting Lexington Monday in a non-conference showdown, while the Mustang netters travel to Chatham Central for a Yadkin Valley Conference battle.
The baseball contest is scheduled to start at 5 p.m., while the tennis match is slated to start swinging at 4:30 p.m.
Mustang head baseball coach Brandon Reynolds kicks off his fourth season with one of his youngest teams. Having lost eight seniors that had three to four years of varsity experience, Reynolds is going through a rebuilding season.
“We’ll be a young team with only two every-game starters back,” said Reynolds. “We don’t have a lot of experience and we will be playing with a learning curve.”
One of Reynolds’ returning veterans is Rider Maness, who has committed to Pfieffer to play baseball. Maness is one of the top pitchers in the conference. “I feel like anytime Rider is on the mound we can beat anybody in the conference,” said Reynolds. “He’s good at the plate and should help us there.”
Another starter back is Cody Vaugh, who plays in the outfield, and Reynolds expects him to be the team’s leadoff batter. Reynolds expects to use Heath Carriker as the team’s left-handed pitcher. Senior Justin Marley should be the starter at second base. Reynolds said he thinks South Stanly, with all its starters back from last season, is the team to beat in the conference.
“I think most of the other teams will be battling for second place behind South Stanly,” said Reynolds. “Chatham Central is always a tough team and East and West Montgomery should have good teams. Albemarle lost two very good players that will have to be replaced. This is going to be a very competitive conference.”
The Mustangs open their conference schedule Tuesday when they travel to Albemarle for a 5 p.m. game.
Mustang head tennis coach Angie Shepard is in much the same boat as Reynolds with her top-four players from last year gone. Shepard is heading into her fifth year as the boys’ tennis coach and has only two starters back from last year. But a good thing for Shepard is that 16 players turned out for the team.
“We’re going to be a young team,” said Shepard. “With so many new players, it’s kind of hard to know what to expect except to say we’re going to be rebuilding this year. Losing our top-four players will be hard to replace. But we did have a good number of players to turn out for the team.”
Shepard welcomes back two starters from last year in Josh Jones and Mason Williams, who manned the fifth and sixth spots on last year’s squad. Shepard also has some freshmen that played at the middle school level and she expects them to contribute. Shepard expects East Montgomery, Gray Stone and Albemarle to be among the top teams in the conference.
“We have some schools that didn’t have teams last year that are competing this year,” she said. “So it’s hard to say what to expect in the conference standings. One of our goals is to finish at least fourth in the conference and make it to the playoffs.”
The Lady Mustangs softball team has already had a couple of scrimmages and kick off its conference slate Tuesday when they host Albemarle. North Moore welcomes back head coach Sammy McNeill, who took a year off from coaching the softball team after being at the helm for 12 years. McNeill had 25 girls to turn out for the team and trimmed the squad down to 16 players.
“With 16 players, it gives me room for base runners, backup players and extra pitching,” said McNeill. “We’ve got some young players that know how to play, but not the ‘Sammy way.’ Our goal is to win the conference and get back to the level where people expect us to be, among one of the top teams in the state.
“Honestly, I think we’re ahead where I thought we should be at this time. South Stanly and Chatham Central are always tough and there are some other teams that should be competitive from what I’m hearing. We’re going to prepare for every team like they’re the top team and not take anybody for granted. We’re here to get back to where North Moore belongs.”
North Moore girls’ soccer team went through a recent coaching change with the boys coach, Michael Shamberger, taking over the program. Shamberger has 18 girls on the squad and is still taking time to evaluate his talent.
“I think we have some talent and might have a good season,” said Shamberger. “But with my late start and not being familiar with the other teams in the conference, I’m not sure where we might finish. I haven’t seen the girls playing against other teams, so I’m kind of blind about how we will do this season.”
The Lady Mustangs kick off their season Wednesday when they travel to highly ranked East Montgomery for a 6:30 p.m. start.
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