April 18, 2011
I tirelessly covered the 2007 UP baseball team's entire season -- they finished Co-CFVC Champs at 12-2, made it to round 2 of the state playoffs and went 20-5 overall that season.
Having seen both that team and this year's squad in action, I can honestly say the 2011 Vikes are close to that historical 2007 Viking club.
The 07 team's top two starting pitchers (Bryan Collins and Carson McLean) were both Division I signees, while Matt Key, the team's closer, signed with Div. II UNCP -- Also Sam Buie and Drew Robinson went on to play at smaller schools
All of the aforementioned players listed in the previous graph were seniors as the 2007 UP team was stacked with 12th graders -- only Peyton Martin (JR) and Todd Collins (SOPH) were major starting contributors as underclassmen -- (Martin also went on to play at the next level)
Obviously, the 2011 team is not nearly as strong pitching-wise as the 07 team. However they do have more than capable/adequate pitching. Moreover their lineup is a bit more solid from top to bottom. Also I feel they are a better overall defensive team...not by too much mind you -- but just enough to make a difference.
Thing is, the 2011 Vikes only have three seniors featured in their top 10 players -- Gabe Gonzalez at CF/Closer/P, Keaton Thomas 2B/IF and Carson Kelly -- Ace Pitcher/RF/3B
The second batter -- Justin Allred, third batter --Nic Collins and clean-up batter Seth Breasseale are all juniors. The senior starters bat leadoff (Gonzalez) fifth (C. Kelly) and sixth (Thomas)
Then you have freshman LF Mason Collins batting seventh, sophomore Noble Davis (starting pitcher/OF) bats ninth and juniors Dylan Kelly/Ryan Gilmore alternate at the 8th slot...so the team has big potential for next year...
Believe one thing if nothing else -- this team is much improved from last year AND that team had a solid second half of the season.
The 2011 Vikings are tons better than the 2009 or 2008 teams...SO right now I say IF this team can win the conference crown outright (over 10th ranked 3A league foe Southern Lee), get two home playoff games and make it to round three they will surpass the 2007 team as the best ever at UP
Before people start saying that is a tall task...I want you all to know I agree... but being better than that 2007 Vike club requires quite lofty on-field achievements , especially when it counts most. Should they only get to round 2 then the debate will be tougher and would probably favor the 2007 team slightly
Until then they are a relatively close second to that 2007 group...at least in my opinion anyway...and don't forget Coach Chad Hill was a rookie in 2007. Now in 2011 this is his fifth season as the skipper
As for that record breaking longball display last WED -- I have seen lots of stuff happen in this game, but that was one amazing feat to witness -- 9 of UP's 11 homers would have been gone at any high school park in the state, another would have been gone in most, while one would have been gone in about half of the parks in NC...
This 2011 team is no doubt the most powerful ever at UP from top to bottom and in the middle of its lineup in terms of home-run ability. Also it is the best hitting UP team 1-9 for average I have ever seen or heard tale of taking the field for the Vikes