The All-Neuse News Baseball Team
Arendell Parrott’s Trey McLawhorn hit .455 with five home runs and 31 RBIs in 23 games to receive Co-Player of the Year honors. Blake McLawhorn was named Co-Player of the Year after hitting .449 with six doubles, two home runs, 19 RBIs and nine stolen bases, as Ayden-Grifton was the only team in the area to win a playoff game this season. Photos by Junious Smith III and William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
A wild baseball season made this job a lot tougher.
The 2019 season was absolutely phenomenal and these decisions certainly weren't easy. There’s going to be plenty of conversation about who should’ve been where and it took a lot of contemplation, along with going back to reading numerous stories throughout the season. There was a lot of criteria that was analyzed, including individual stats, team success and competition. Please feel free to explain where there were errors in the comment sections.
Besides a Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Coach of the Year, the first and second teams will have four infielders and three outfielders (no matter the position), a catcher and three pitchers. Let's get started.
Co-Players of the Year: Blake McLawhorn, Ayden-Grifton and Trey McLawhorn, Arendell Parrott
Stats for Blake McLawhorn: .449, 6 doubles, 2 home runs, 19 RBIs, 9 stolen bases
Stats for Trey McLawhorn: .455, 5 home runs, 10 doubles, 31 RBIs
I've never been a fan of a co-anything when it comes to the end of the year, but this one was too tough to make a definitive selection. Both players put up fantastic numbers for teams who had strong seasons and found ways to go beyond the statlines. Blake McLawhorn played a significant role in the Chargers' best season since 2015 while Trey McLawhorn helped guide an offense that put up six or more runs in 18 of 23 contests. It just didn't feel right excluding one of them.
Finalists for this award included APA's Jonah Beaman, who had a great season in his own right, Jones Senior's Jay King, who played out of his mind and North Lenoir's Malik Dixon, who led the Hawks in numerous categories.
Pitcher of the Year: Trevor Sears, North Lenoir
Stats: 37 innings, 6-1, 1.12 ERA, 31 K
Sears may not have been a fireballer, but no other pitcher had control like him, as he allowed only one walk the entire season. The sophomore held opponents to a .226 batting average and in a conversation after finding out he was the Pitcher of the Year, thanked fellow Hawks pitcher Peyton Howard and catcher Brendon Grant for assistance.
Finalists for this award included Howard, who held opponents to an even stingier batting average, South Lenoir's Jon Howard, who turned in a strong freshman campaign and Jones Senior's Jay King, who really did it all for the Trojans.
Coach of the Year, Corey Skinner, Ayden-Grifton
The Chargers have been consistent, winning 13 games or more each of the last nine seasons, but this year was taken to another level. The Chargers finished tied for third in a tough Eastern Carolina Conference, then won a playoff game one year after missing the postseason entirely. Skinner deserves plenty of credit for getting a veteran-laden squad prepped for the challenge while also incorporating young talent in the mix.
Finalists for this award included Jones Senior’s Jason Barker, who guided the Trojans to their first postseason birth since 2016, APA’s Robert Kravitz, who won his fourth straight conference title with the Patriots and 15th overall and North Lenoir’s Jackson Massey, whose Hawks had another strong regular-season campaign.
Tanner Batchelor, Jones Senior
The senior transferred from Bethel Christian and went on an absolute tear for the Trojans this season, tying for the team lead in RBIs with 39. Batchelor had 12 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and was second in the team in batting average, hitting at a .456 clip.
Jonah Beaman, Arendell Parrott Academy
The junior was another very scary bat in the Patriots’ lineup and caused terror throughout the NCISAA. Beaman batted a team-high .468 with 33 RBIs, also providing 13 doubles and four home runs, helping APA sustain its impressive offense throughout.
Malik Dixon, North Lenoir
The senior was almost guaranteed to deliver at least one Sportscenter-like play in the infield, as defense was his calling card. Dixon also flashed a great bat, leading the team in on-base percentage (.548) and finishing second in batting average (.378). He also led the team in runs scored (21) and stolen bases (16).
Zach Taylor, Greene Central
Taylor played 16 of the team’s 21 games due to basketball and a late-season injury, but he certainly produced when he was out there. The junior batted .415 with 23 RBIs and 13 extra-base hits, including five home runs, while also throwing 30.1 innings with a 3.23 ERA, 3-2 record and 30 strikeouts.
Jalin Conner, Greene Central
Conner drove pitchers crazy on the basepaths, racking up 38 stolen bases this season for the Rams. The senior batted .377, led the team in on-base percentage with .506 and finished tied for third in extra base hits with five doubles and a home run.
Jayden Gatling, North Lenoir
Gatling was also an excellent defender for a Hawks team that allowed more than five runs just three times, making spectacular catches. The senior also batted .306 with a team-high 16 RBIs, three home runs, 11 stolen bases and a .514 on-base percentage.
Matthew Huntley, Arendell Parrott Academy
Huntley set the pace for the Patriots’ offense, primarily batting leadoff and contributing with a .411 batting average, which included six doubles and a home run. The senior ran the bases well with 34 runs scored and 19 stolen bases, and did a great job in the outfield.
Brandon Benfield, Ayden-Grifton
Benfield made a lot of strong offensive contributions for the Chargers, leading the team in RBIs with 28 and finishing second in batting average at a .400 clip. The junior also had six doubles and two home runs for an Ayden-Grifton offense that was tops in the ECC at 7.8 runs per game.
Peyton Howard, North Lenoir
The senior was lights out for a majority of the season, going 6-3 and posting a sparkling 1.59 ERA and holding opponents to a .188 batting average. Howard struck out 57 batters in 39.2 innings, and also produced at the plate with a .300 average, .450 OBP and 15 stolen bases.
Austin Jones, Ayden-Grifton
Jones’ record wasn’t the greatest at 5-4, but the senior posted a strong 2.61 ERA, threw 54 strikeouts in 45.2 innings and picked up a save in a relief appearance. At the plate, Jones also delivered, batting .365 with 14 RBIs and 33 runs.
Jay King, Jones Senior
King threw 44.2 innings with 60 strikeouts and a 3.29 ERA, which is great for this spot, but he also ends his career as the best Trojans hitter ever. This season, King batted .531 with 39 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits, striking out just once. In this case, it was about getting another great infielder in the mix but make no mistake, King would be an easy selection in both cases.
Jensen Barwick, South Lenoir
The Blue Devils’ could rely on the senior to reach base more than half of the time, posting a .458 batting average and .552 OBP. Barwick also had 15 runs and five doubles for South Lenoir.
Garrett Brock, North Lenoir
The senior had the most consistent bat for the Hawks, hitting a team-high .393 on the season and finishing third in RBIs with 13.
Austin Joyner, North Lenoir
The junior is only going to improve as he provided a solid combination of power and speed. Joyner batted .323 with 12 RBIs, five doubles, a home run and 12 stolen bases.
Logan Meadows, Jones Senior
Only a freshman, Meadows has the potential of being a nightmare in the Coastal Plains Conference. Meadows batted .429 with 23 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for the Trojans.
Gavin Harrell, South Lenoir
The senior was solid at the plate with a .312 batting average, along with three doubles, eight RBIs and 16 runs. In the outfield, Harrell didn’t commit a miscue for the Blue Devils.
Josh Harris, Ayden-Grifton
The senior had a strong season for the Chargers, leading the team in doubles (eight) with a .301 average, 15 RBIs, 22 runs and nine stolen bases. Harris also hit a pair of home runs.
Logan Murphy, Jones Senior
The junior was a Swiss Army knife for the Trojans, also playing in the infield, as a catcher and pitcher. Murphy will get his place on this list in the outfield, posting a .338 average with 11 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 37 runs.
Brendon Grant, North Lenoir
The senior did a great job helping the pitching staff of the Hawks and even threw in four games without surrendering a run. At the plate, Grant batted .382 with four doubles and 13 RBIs.
Tanner Cannon, Ayden-Grifton
The sophomore had an impressive 5-1 record and 2.70 ERA, striking out 50 in 44 innings pitched. Cannon wasn’t bad at the plate either with a .300 average, 12 RBIs, 2 home runs and 21 stolen bases.
Jon Howard, South Lenoir
The Blue Devils’ freshman faced the top teams on the mound and performed admirably in the process. Howard posted a 3.82 ERA and struck out 48 in 40.1 innings.
Jamir Jones-Gatling, North Lenoir
The sophomore made the most of his opportunities to give the Hawks a scare pitching trio. Jones-Gatling threw 24 strikeouts in 20.2 innings with a 2.37 ERA.
Dylan Benton, Greene Central
The senior swung a great bat this season, batting .367 with eight doubles, two triples and 21 RBIs.
Cooper Emory, Bethel Christian
The freshman had a solid campaign offensively, batting .351 with six doubles and 11 RBIs.
Tyler Eubanks, Bethel Christian
The junior led the Trojans in batting average (.410), also hitting four doubles with 10 stolen bases.
Ethan May, North Lenoir
The senior batted .312 with four doubles for the Hawks, providing 14 runs scored and 14 RBIs.
Raegan Rouse, Jones Senior
The sophomore was another great bat for the Trojans, batting .333 with 26 RBIs.
Easton Truett, Bethel Christian
The freshman threw 22.1 innings, posting a 3.45 ERA with 21 strikeouts for the Trojans.
Connor Williams, Bethel Christian
The junior led the team in stolen bases with 17, also batting .333 with five doubles and throwing 24.1 innings with 27 strikeouts.
Nick Wolters, Kinston
The sophomore led the Vikings in batting average (.300) and stolen bases (8) and will be a good building block for the future.
Let the debates begin.