Postseason 'brings out the bulldog' in WHS
Weddington’s baseball team has been down this road before.
The Warriors are in the midst of a postseason run they hope yields the same result as a similar-looking streak in 2012 — a 3A state championship.
To fulfill that quest — again — Weddington will pile onto the team bus this afternoon for another postseason road game. The 13-mile bus ride down Providence Road and Pineville-Matthews Road will be short, and it will also be familiar.
Today is the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, and the Warriors (19-9) — once again the second seed from the Southern Carolina Conference — will play the MEGA 3A/4A conference champion Charlotte Catholic (21-6).
The Warriors and Cougars played in the second round of last year’s postseason, with Weddington dispatching Catholic 2-1 en route to the 3A state championship.
The talented Warriors, who have four Division I commitments, have a knack for turning it on in the postseason.
“I think we kind of dig deeper,” said Charlotte 49ers signee Jeremy Schellhorn of Weddington’s postseason success dating back to last year. “It brings out the bulldog in all of us, and we just go after teams. We pound them early and keep pounding them.”
The defending state champs started slow, losing four of five games to open the season. Their top two pitchers, senior Alex Bostic (Clemson signee) and junior Sean Collins (University of Virginia commit), missed time with injuries. Schellhorn, the projected closer, entered the year still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
All are healthy and all have contributed in the postseason, which includes an 8-0 win over East Rowan in the opening and a 12-4 win over Mt. Pleasant earlier this week.
Collins, whose missed time occurred during the middle of the season, was the winning pitcher against East Rowan, and Bostic’s bat has stayed hot. The senior is batting .527 and leads Union County with 11 home runs.
“I’m just going up there and trying not to overthink things,” Bostic said. “If I see a first-pitch fastball, I hit it. You have to take things nice and easy; can’t go out there and try to do too much at one time.”
Bostic returned to the mound midway through the season for spot duty, and he said his arm feels good — he hopes to be able to pitch an inning or two next week, provided the Warriors are still playing.
With Landon Kay getting the start and notching the win in the second round, Weddington’s rotation is back to Collins for tonight’s game. That’s fitting — Collins earned the win against Catholic in 2012.
“Last year, it was a dogfight,” Bostic said. “When we play them this year, they’re going to be good. Hopefully they’re throwing their ace, because we’re throwing our ace.”
Most of Catholic’s players from last year’s team return — 11 of the Cougars' 17 players are seniors. That includes a right-handed pitching duo that is highly responsible for Catholic’s success.
The Cougars have a powerful tandem of Jordon Accetta, a Wofford College signee, and Jacob Bonen-Clark. The two have combined to pitch 87 innings and have 90 total strikeouts.
Junior left Ben Brady is 7-0 with a 0.23 ERA and a team-high 60 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched as the team’s No. 3 starter and relief guy.
Bonen-Clark got the start in Charlotte Catholic’s 2-1 second-round win over South Rowan, so either Accetta or Brady will get the nod tonight. Accetta started in last year’s game and was the hard-luck loser to Collins.
The Cougars are also powerful offensively, with three every-day players sporting a batting average better than .400, including Tyler Jensen, who is good friends with Schellhorn through their time playing summer ball.
Should history repeat and Weddington wins again to advance to the fourth round, the Warriors would face either Asheboro (16-7) or Marvin Ridge (25-3). Yes, cross-town archrival Marvin Ridge.
“We all kind of looked at the bracket and saw that,” Schellhorn said. “That’d be a huge game, rivals playing each other. We definitely know about that, but we also realize we have to go out and beat Catholic.”
N.C. baseball playoffs
(involving Union County)
Tuesday's second round results
4A: McDowell 2, Porter Ridge 1
3A: Weddington 12, East Gaston 4
3A: Marvin Ridge 17, Cox Mill 7
2A: Piedmont 6, Salisbury 1
2A: Cuthbertson 11, East Davidson 4
Today's third round games
3A: Weddington (19-9) at Charlotte Catholic (21-6)
3A: Asheboro (16-7) at Marvin Ridge (25-3)
2A: Trinity (17-10) at Piedmont (24-2)
2A: Cuthbertson (18-6) at Randleman (23-5)