Two friends will coach opposing teams across the diamond and 15 Robeson County senior baseball players will get one final chance to wear their school uniforms on the field at J. P Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville on Sunday.
While coaching friends Kelly Chavis from St. Pauls and Jeff McLamb from Lumberton will be in opposing dugouts for the Sandhills Senior Showcase sponsored by Lumbee River and South River EMC, they both know this is time for their seniors and area products to put their skills on display another time before heading to play in college next year.
The showcase features players from Robeson and Cumberland county, with a $1,000 scholarship going to the MVP of the game. First pitch for the event is at 7:05 p.m.
“I look at this as another chance for our guys to showcase out of the county,” Chavis said. “Sometimes our guys don’t get a lot of attention because of where we are so this is another chance for them.”
Team Lumbee River EMC that is coached by Chavis has three former Bulldogs on the team in Ted McNeill, J.J. Oxendine and Takota Bullard. Fairmont’s Tyler Hodge and Austin Hunt also will play for Chavis.
Team South River EMC coached by McLamb has Lumberton’ A.J. Brooks and Daniel Carter on the roster.
“I was fallen back when I was asked to coach,” McLamb said. “This should be a cool, fun experience To get to coach these two one more time.
“Both of them see it as a great opportunity. I talked to A.J. about it and he was looking forward to wearing the Pirate uniform one more time.”
Also playing in the event is Purnell Swett’s Cal Hunt, Chay Locklear, Lucas Oxendine, Ethan Chavis, Bladen Strickland, McKinley Strickland, Prentice Urban and Ryan Graham.
Purnell Swett and Fairmont had their players added on Thursday morning and no word was given on which teams the eight Rams would play on.
When asked about the possibility of coaching one of the teams, Chavis had plans on bringing McLamb in as an assistant, until he heard that McLamb had already agreed to coach the South River EMC squad.
“I’ve learned that if there’s someone you don’t want to lose to, it’s your friend,” Chavis said. “It’s just a great opportunity to compete with him.”
“I told him that it gives me one more opportunity to get back that game,” McLamb said alluding to the matchup between the two schools that St. Pauls won in the Robeson County Slugfest. “Any time we get to go against each other is a fun time.”
This showcase is a chance for the local talent to play in front of college coaches.Ten of the 15 have already committed to play baseball at the next level. Lucas Oxendine signed with UNC Wilmington. Ethan Chavis and McKinley Strickland signed with North Carolina A&T. J.J. Oxendine, Bladen Strickland, McNeill, Brooks and Carter signed with Southeastern Community College. Hodge signed with Methodist. Graham signed with USC Sumter.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.