8 area players earn all-EPC baseball acclaim

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Runner-up North Johnston High, third-place SouthWest Edgecombe and last-place Beddingfield combined to land eight players on the 2018 All-Eastern Plains Conference baseball team.

Regular-season champion Nash Central, which went undefeated against conference opposition and reached the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A playoffs, paced the elite unit with five selections — including senior catcher Chase Minshew, the player of the year.

North Johnston, which compiled a 15-9 record, placed seniors Trey Whitley, Colby Hall and Brandon Barnes and junior Tucker Batten.

Representing SouthWest are senior Cody Fuller, senior T.J. Harris and junior Alexander Ortiz.

Beddingfield’s lone selection is senior outfielder/pitcher Alston Pittman.

Joining Minshew from Nash Central are Colby Carter, Payton Bass, Hunter Robinson and Trey Whitley.

Completing the All-EPC lineup are Farmville Central’s Josh Faust and Bradley Allen and North Pitt’s Jacob Peaden and Brandon Warren.

North Johnston also exited in the second round of the playoffs, while SouthWest was a first-round casualty.

The Panthers’ Whitley emerged the runner-up to Minshew in the player-of-the-year balloting. Now playing professionally, Whitley batted .442, scored 30 runs and drove in 19. His extra-base assault consisted of six doubles, two triples and three homers. Whitley stole 19 bases on 20 attempts.

On the mound, the right-hander posted a 7-3 record with a 1.36 earned run average. He pitched two shutouts and three complete games. In 61 1/3 innings, Whitley struck out 79 and walked 29.

Teammate Barnes hit at a .360 clip with 16 runs scored, 11 RBIs and four doubles. Hall compiled a .423 average with 19 runs scored, 15 RBIs and five doubles. Batten hit at a torrid .553 pace with 10 runs scored, 10 RBIs and seven doubles.

For SouthWest, Fuller posted a .456 batting average with 24 runs scored, seven doubles and 12 stolen bases. He pitched 16 2/3 innings, issuing four walks and striking out 11. Fuller wound up with a 4-3 record and 2.52 ERA.

Harris emerged a .413 hitter with 21 runs scored, six doubles, one homer and seven stolen bases. Ortiz, a right-hander, posted a 4-2 record and 2.31 ERA. In 36 1/3 innings, he struck out 28 and walked 12.

Pittman paced Beddingfield in numerous offensive categories. He batted .411 with five doubles, three triples and two homers. Pittman scored 13 runs and drove in 17. A left-handed pitcher, Pittman went 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA. In 30 2/3 innings, he struck out 32 and walked 14.

Nash Central’s Minshew excelled offensively and defensively. The senior batted .424 with 17 runs, 16 RBIs and seven doubles. Behind the plate, Minshew registered a .994 fielding percentage with just four passed balls. He threw out 11 of 19 base runners attempting to steal.