After leading the Cedar Ridge baseball team to its first winning season since 2012, Coach Jamie Athas has been appropriately honored.
Athas was named the Big 8 Coach of the Year on Wednesday night. The Red Wolves finished 17-7 and hosted a state playoff game for the first time since 2007, defeating Nash Central 4-1. Cedar Ridge also defeated crosstown rival Orange 6-0 on May 3, its first win over the Panthers since 2012.
In addition, three Red Wolves were named to the All-Big 8 Team.
* Senior centerfielder and pitcher Brandon Andrews, who was usually the leadoff batter, hit .420 with a team-leading six doubles. He also led the squad with 3 home runs and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, Andrews went 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA, striking out 56, another team-high.
* Sophomore pitcher Phil Berger finished with an 8-2 record, recording wins in his last six starts. He earned the win in a 6-0 win over Orange on May 3rd, throwing a one-hit shutout. That one hit was an infield single in the sixth inning that was debatable. Berger also defeated Nash Central on May 10th, the Red Wolves 1st playoff win since 2007, when they were a 2-A team. Berger also hit .262 with 12 RBI.
* Sophomore shortstop Dante DeFranco led Cedar Ridge with 30 hits. He had a 13-game hitting streak from March 21st against Chapel Hill through April 28 against Carrboro. In the Hilltop Invitational Tournament, he went 4-for-8 with four runs scored. DeFranco also had an RBI in the playoff victory over Nash Central.
The Orange Panthers, who advanced to the third round of the 3A State Playoffs and finished 14-13, placed four players on the All-Big 8 Team.
* Centerfielder and leadoff batter Jaydin Poteat led the Panthers in six different categories: batting average, hits, runs, stolen bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Poteat, a junior, hit .381 with 32 hits and 28 runs scored. He stole 19 bases on 20 attempts.
* Pitcher and designated hitter Derek Lindaman ended his tenure at Orange with a 7-3 victory. He earned his 1st playoff victory in a 4-2 win at South Johnston on May 9. Lindaman saved his best outings for his final few starts, notching a 2-1 win over Big 8 champion Northwood, a 6-0 shutout of Webb that helped Orange get into the playoffs; a 9-1 victory over archrival Cedar Ridge. In his final game, he took a 1-hitter into the 7th inning against West Brunswick and was two outs away from another playoff win before the Trojans’ Garrison Gause hit a solo homer to tie it. West Brunswick eventually won in 9 innings. Lindaman also hit .300 in 25 plate appearances.
* Freshman shortstop Joey Berini hit safely in all three of Orange’s playoff games, which was no small feat since they were all pitcher’s duels. Berini drove in a run in the 4-2 win over South Johnston, and scored Orange’s only run at West Brunswick. In his first year on the varsity team, Berini hit .274 with 11 runs scored and 8 RBIs. He only made one error all season.
* Left fielder and pitcher Dalton Brown hit .325. Among the best contact hitters on the team, he struck out only three times. In 24 games, Brown had 13 hits and scored eight runs. His biggest game of the Eason was the 4-3 victory over Northern Vance, where he had three hits in a game that went 14 innings and took over six weeks to complete. It started on March 24th, was suspended after 13 innings because of darkness, then resumed on May 1st with Orange driving 90 minutes up to Henderson to play one inning.