LUMBERTON — The following are the 2018 selections for the All-County baseball team. They were selected from among the six county high school teams.
Those with a “*” were 2016 All-County selections and those with a “^” were 2017 All-County selections.
Coach of the Year
Sandy Thorndyke, Fairmont: With two seniors as the heart and soul of his team, Fairmont under the direction of Thorndyke was able to produce a 17-win season that included the Robeson County Slugfest title and an appearance in the baseball state playoffs. The Golden Tornadoes finished third in the Three Rivers Conference and swept the season series with second-place West Columbus.
Thorndyke’s take: “I have two of the best assistant coaches you can ask for. Chris Hodge and Matt Reynolds, without them two, and the team, there wouldn’t be a Coach of the Year under my name. We worked hard and that was the No. 1 key and the kids bought in bought to what we wanted to do.”
Player of the Year
*^Seth Thorndyke, Fairmont, C/INF/P, Sr.: Despite being walked 15 times and facing pitches that skirted the strike zone all season, Thorndyke was the leading hitter in the county, batting average wise, at .561. This came after a .481 batting average last season. Thorndyke also had a team-best 26 RBIs and a trio of home runs. He also appeared 11 times on the mound with a 1.45 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Seth Thorndyke’s take: “I knew that anything that was close to the plate that I would have to take advantage of it. Every time I got the chance to drive in a run and help my team, I did. I knew that I had a chance of getting all-county and all-conference, but I thought that was shot after I tore my MCL. When the doctor released me, I thought I was going to run back to the school to get back and play. (To win this award) it’s awesome.”
Sandy Thorndyke’s take: “He was real discipline at the plate and that’s one reason I think he hit over .500 because he could’ve swung at any pitches and hit .300 or .350. Because of him being patient and taking his walks, it helped us out a lot.”
Pitcher of the Year
^Randy Floyd, Fairmont, Sr.: After signing his letter of intent in the fall with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Floyd was driven to prove his doubters wrong. He posted a 1.12 ERA and went 8-2 as the ace of the Golden Tornadoes’ staff. Floyd also posted the highest strikeout total in the county at 112 in his 68 innings of work. He also was Fairmont’s second-leading hitter behind Thorndyke.
Floyd’s take: “Playing with the team we had, with me and Seth the only two seniors, we knew we had to step up and do our jobs. There’s a lot of good athletes in Robeson County, and it’s special to be recognized as one of the best. This season gave me something to prove to everybody about my ability and what I could do.”
Sandy Thorndyke’s take: “He was out to prove that he wasn’t just a one-way player. He proved that he was an all-around player and not just a pitcher. He was able to pitch what I say was our bigger games. When we went to a conference game we had to win, we were able to put Randy on the mound.”
Most Improved Player
Darren Bowen, Red Springs, P, Jr.: After seeing virtually no time on the field last season at St. Pauls, Bowen came to Red Springs with a chip on his shoulder. From the first game of the season to the Red Devils’ playoff appearance at West Craven, Bowen was the team’s workhorse and ace. He tallied 107 strikeouts in more than 62 innings for a 1.35 ERA.
Bowen’s take: “When I left St. Pauls, people were telling me I wouldn’t start here. I came here to get another shot. I knew what I could do. I worked in the weight room and things like that to improve. I’ve got to improve everything. I want to walk less batters and get my velocity up on my fastball up. I’ve got a little ways to go to get where I want to get to.”
Red Springs coach Chris Howell’s take: “Since he threw his first bullpen, I knew something was there. He started the first game of the season when we opened down at South Columbus and we went ahead thrown him in the grease. From that point on, he solidified himelf as our ace.”
Freshman of the Year
Ethan Wilkins, Purnell Swett, C, Fr.: As one of a handful of rookies on the Rams’ squad, Wilkins came in to take the starting catcher’s spot and stood up to the challenge. He finished the season with 13 hits and seven RBIs at the plate, and posted a .971 fielding percentage. He also allowed only five passed balls all season, and threw out one runner.
Wilkins’ take: “I just gave my best at it and tried my best. This wasn’t my best season playing baseball, but I’m pretty sure I can do better next year. Ever since I heard my buddy, Jeremiah (Locklear), won it last year I wanted to get it.”
Purnell Swett coach Jeff Lamb’s take: “I saw him progress as the year went on. He got better and better each day and he had to grow up fast as a freshman, and he did. He also will be a good pitcher for us in the future and he can play on the corners. There’s more to come for him.”
^Jeremiah Locklear, Purnell Swett, So.: After earning county Freshman of the Year last season, Locklear followed it up with a solid sophomore campaign with a 1.98 ERA, three wins on the mound and an all-conference recognition.
Eugene Wilkins, Purnell Swett, Jr.: As the Rams’ No. 2 starter, Wilkins proved to be as good as many teams’ aces with a 2.17 ERA and a team-best 59 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. He also led the staff with four wins.
Marcus Ransom, Fairmont, INF, Jr.: The junior shortstop was the the leadoff bat and the third-leading hitter in the Fairmont order with a .329 average and nine RBIs.
Mason Locklear, Fairmont, OF/INF, Jr.: Locklear knocked in 21 RBIs and batted .284 at the plate this season as a middle-of-the-order bat for the Golden Tornadoes.
Gabriel Locklear, Red Springs, OF, Jr.: The leading hitter for Red Springs, Locklear batted .434, with a pair of home runs and 17 RBIs, a big uptick from his showing last season.
*^Jaylen Mack, Red Springs, C, Jr.: Mack picks up his third all-county recognition in three seasons after hitting .373 and 17 RBIs as a key piece for Red Springs.
Jayshawn Carthen, Red Springs, INF, Jr.: With the third-best batting average on the team at .320, Carthen also had six RBIs.
Braydon Scott, Purnell Swett, OF, Sr.: Scott was the leading hitter for Purnell Swett with a .362 average that included 15 RBIs. Those numbers helped the senior earn all-conference honors.
Noah Evington, Purnell Swett, OF, Jr.: Batting near the top of the order, Evington benefited from players like Scott reaching base to lead the team with 17 RBIs, while also sporting a .288 batting average.
*^Zack Carter, South Robeson, P/INF, Jr.: Carter was a a key cog for South Robeson this season that ended prematurely to injury. When healthy, he was tough on the mound with a 2.45 ERA with 22 strikeouts in less than 20 innings.
Kris Allen, Lumberton, INF/P, Jr.: Allen was one of the top hitters, and a consistent arm for the Pirates this season. He hit .271 with a team-best eight RBIs, and struck out 30 batters in 18 2/3 innings on the hill.
^Aaron Revels, St. Pauls, OF/P, Sr.: As one of the few experienced players for the Bulldogs, Revels was a leader with his play at the plate and was also the ace of the pitching staff.
Individual awards and team selections were made by Brandon Tester and Jonathan Bym.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.