Five Vikings Garner All-League Baseball Honors
The Union Pines baseball team recently held its postseason awards banquet honoring the largest senior class head coach Chad Hill has seen during his six-season tenure.
Five Viking players were all-conference selections, including seniors Justin Allred, Nicholas Collins and Seth Breasseale, along with junior Jeffrey Thompson and sophomore Mason Collins.
After finishing as the runner-up in the voting for the league MVP as a sophomore and junior, Collins was selected as the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference Player of the Year this season.
“Nic Collins is a very special individual,” said Hill. “He was a four-year starter and three-year all-conference selection He rewrote the record books at Union Pines but more importantly, he set a good example for his peers whether it was on the field or off the field.
“From a coach’s perspective, it was wonderful to get to watch him grow over his four years here and become a better player each time he stepped on the field. Aside from his ability, his leadership as a three-year captain was so critical to the chemistry and success of our team.”
On the season the southpaw slugger batted .439 with 10 HRs, 31 RBIs, 29 runs and nine doubles. His final on-base percentage (OBP) was .612 and he slugged 1.03 for the year.
Hill also took some hardware away from the annual league awards as he was selected for a second straight season as the CFVC coach of the year.
“It was awesome to receive that honor,” said Hill. “Anytime you are recognized by your peers, it always feels good. Obviously I had wonderful kids to coach in order for me to have an opportunity to win that award, so a good deal of the credit goes to my players.”
For seniors Breasseale and Allred it marked their second straight season as all-league selections.
As the starting first baseman and relief pitcher, Breasseale, who was the 2011 CFVC player of the year, closed out his final campaign as a Viking by batting .281 with one homer, 14 RBIs and 18 runs while accumulating on OBP of .460.
Meanwhile, Allred, who split time on the mound as well as at the shortstop, second base and first base spots, batted .316 with five homers, 24 RBIs and 17 runs, while slugging .570. As a pitcher he collected four wins against two losses and registered three saves.
Allred, Collins and Breasseale are three of four Vike seniors that will be playing ball at the next level. Allred and Allen Denny are off to Methodist University, Collins will be a member of the Georgetown University baseball team, and Breasseale will be a pitcher for Barton College.
“It is a wonderful thing as a coach to see your guys go on to play at the next level,” said Hill. “During my first year in 2007 we sent five guys on to play college ball, with Carson McLean and Brian Collins both going to UNC Asheville, Matt Key going to UNC Pembroke, Sam Buie going to Florence Darlington Tech, and Drew Robinson going to Southeastern (Community College) before transferring to play his final two years in Division I at North Carolina Central University.
“So that year was pretty unbelievable and I feel this year our four college-bound players are on par with that 2007 group.”
The nine Vike seniors on the 2012 team are the most Hill has had at Union Pines. The 2007 class was his previous high mark with six seniors.
“At the banquet I told them how wonderful it was to have nine seniors,” Hill said, “and if every one of them could redshirt and come back again to play one more year that they are such great people I would have them back in a heartbeat.
“I told them over their four years that they were a major part of making Union Pines baseball something to be proud of. They were one of four teams in the history of the program to be able to say they won a conference championship, which is awesome, and last year they made it to the third round of the state playoffs.
“However, the most important thing about this senior class is we are sending four guys on to play college baseball and sending nine wonderful citizens out into the real world.”
Along with Allred, Breasseale, Collins and Denny, Vikings Lee Barber, Ryan Gilmore, Andrew Harward, Garrett Harris and Dylan Kelly received the senior awards at the team banquet. In addition, Nic Collins was named the winner of the team MVP award.
Union Pines finished as the CFVC co-champions with Gray’s Creek, amassing a league mark of 10-2 and an overall record of 16-9.
One major reason behind the Vikings’ success was the clutch hitting they received all year long from sophomore left fielder Mason Collins. On the season he batted .432 with three homers, 15 RBI, 24 runs and nine doubles while accruing an OBP of .500 and a slugging percentage of .703 to earn his first all-league team honors.
Thompson played a stellar center field in his first full season as a Viking varsity player to also earn his first all-conference honors. On the year he batted .353 from the two-hole in the batting order with one home run, 10 RBI, 22 runs and five stolen bases. His OBP of .500 was the second best on the squad.
Starting today both Thompson and Hill will be participating in the 2012 PowerAde State Games of North Carolina high school baseball tournament, which runs through June 17 in Winston-Salem at BB&T Ballpark, Wake Forest University and Glenn High School.
Hill was selected as a Region 4 assistant coach, while Thompson was one of 20 players selected to the Region 4 team.
“For Jeffrey and me to be part of the State Games is awesome because it allows us the opportunity to have people see the Union Pines program on a larger scale statewide,” Hill said. “It is a great opportunity for Jeff as an individual as well because he gets to pitch, bat and play the field in front of 80-100 college and major league scouts. So this upcoming week is going to be a fun and rewarding time for Jeffrey and myself.
“The State Games starts with scout day Wednesday,” Hill said, “as all eight region teams (for a total of 160 underclassmen ) get a chance to work out in front of the scouts, by doing 60s ( a 60-yard dash started from baserunning style position) in and outs (field practice) and taking BP (batting practice.)
“Then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, each team plays one game. After the regional round-robin is completed the top-seeded East and West teams play for a gold medal Sunday, with the second-seeded teams from each region playing for the bronze.”
While the regular season has been put to bed, the Vikings were slated to begin their fifth year in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League season at home Monday against Lumberton, but the game was rained out. The Vikes are scheduled to travel to Lumberton today before closing the first week of play Thursday, on the road, in Raeford against Hoke County.
Next week Union Pines has three home CCSSL games with the junior varsity tilts starting at 4 p.m. and the varsity contests set to begin at 6 p.m. Union Pines hosts Hoke on Monday, before welcoming North Moore to Viking Field Tuesday and Thursday for two cross-county clashes to close out the second week of summer-league action.
“We are really excited about CCSSL this year,” said Hill. “We have 17 guys on our JV team and 13 of them are rising ninth-graders coming from New Century and Crain’s Creek (middle schools). Our varsity has 14 players and it is a mix between rising sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“We take this time not to look at wins and losses but to compete night-in and night-out, both individually and as a team. A few years ago we were in this division (Southeast) and it kind of set the tone for our upcoming season — by the time the summer is over we want all of our guys to be able to access where they have progressed over these six weeks so we can incorporate that into their fall work and winter workouts. Hopefully they as players and we as a team will be able to reap the benefits in the springtime, when it really counts.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at frankwm2 @gmail.com.
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