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All-state ascension

Fike’s Daniels, CBA’s Whaley and NJ’s Radford on NCBCA elite team

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Fike High head coach Buck Edmundson knew he was getting a good player, but he didn’t have any idea of the intangibles that Dwight Daniels would bring to the Golden Demons varsity baseball team.

Daniels, who transferred from Northern Nash after his junior year, capped an outstanding senior season Friday when he was announced as one of the 30 players selected to the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association 3-A All-State Team.

“It’s a big thing. I’ve never won anything like this before,” Daniels said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

Also landing on the 3-A all-state team was C.B. Aycock junior Cody Whaley while North Johnston senior Dylan Radford earned 2-A all-state acclaim.

Daniels, who was an All-Big East Conference selection as a junior at Northern Nash, repeated as an all-conference performer at Fike this year after moving into the school district last summer.

“I didn’t know him all that well,” Edmundson said. “I knew he played weekend ball with some of our guys and had family that lived around Wilson.”

Daniels, the cousin of Fike junior Justin Daniels and former Demons star D.J. Daniels, made an impression on Edmundson during fall practice.

“He was one of the first people out here every day and he worked hard and had a great attitude,” Edmundson said.

Daniels was one of Fike’s top hitters, batting .443 with 10 doubles, a .516 on-base percentage and 12 stolen bases. But as much of a catalyst as he was in the lineup, Daniels was just as important on the mound to a Fike team that suffered heavy graduation losses but still managed to win 13 games and finish third in the Big East. He went 4-4 with a 2.34 ERA.

“He was just an old-school, tough type of kid who wanted the ball in his hands as often as he could,” Edmundson said of Daniels’ willingness to pitch.

Daniels, who has signed to play with Lenoir Community College, admitted that he came to like pitching more than playing shortstop. But he’s really glad he came to Fike.

“It wasn’t really hard because I make friends easily,” Daniels said. “Everybody accepted me when I came over and Coach E made it easy for me to fit in.”

Edmundson didn’t hesitate when asked what Daniels brought to the team.

“Toughness,” Edmundson replied. “He brought a certain level of toughness and a no-quit attitude. He was a spark in our lineup and in the dugout. It was like he had played here all four years, honestly.

WHALEY FINDS FIT

Whaley found his fit on the Falcons varsity after playing junior varsity his first two years at Aycock. The junior right-hander quickly became the Falcons ace starting pitcher, going 7-2 with a 1.01 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings over 11 appearances, all starts.

“He was our No. 1, there was no question about that,” CBA head coach Charles Davis said. “He put the work in in the offseason and I knew by watching him last summer that our pitching was going to be fine (this year).”

Whaley was quick to credit his teammates for his all-state accolade.

“It’s a great honor but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the defense behind me all year,” he said.

Whaley helped Aycock win 19 of its 26 games and earn the No. 1 3-A seed from the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

“I didn’t expect to pitch as much as I did this year. I was very happy with the way this season went,” he said.

Davis described the 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior as “very cool on the mound.”

“He throws strikes, that’s the main thing. He’s able to locate his fastball and curveball and off-speed,” Davis said. “You knew that with him, he was going to keep you in the ball game.

“Cody is not a big kid but he’s a competitor and battler and he knows how to pitch.”

RADFORD’S BIG YEAR

After a solid junior season, Radford emerged as the Panthers ace and top hitter this spring.

The UNC Pembroke signee ranked ninth among North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A hitters with a .493 batting average to go along with 24 RBIs, 23 runs scored and a .533 on-base percentage.

On the mound he was even better as Radford’s minuscule 0.36 ERA ranked second in the state 2-A ranks and 10th in all classifications. He went 9-3 in 12 appearances with four complete games and two shutouts while striking out 68.

Radford helped the Panthers to a 21-4 record, including a 10-0 run and second straight 2-A Eastern Plains Conference championship.

Radford was not available for comment due to North Johnston’s graduation being held Friday evening.

THE REST OF THE TEAM

The NCBCA all-state players are selected by a committee. Players do not have to play for a coach who is a member of the NCBCA but they must be nominated by a member coach.

The 2-A player of the year is Justin Bullock from South Granville while China Grove Carson’s Chris Cauble was saluted as the 3-A player of the year.

The rest of the NCBCA 2-A All-State Team is Turtle Windish (Ashe County), Alex Ortiz (West Wilkes), Holden Owens (Polk County), Dakota DeLisi (Ayden-Grifton), Garrett Tyndall (South Lenoir), Dillon Phillips and Jace Crowe (R-S Central), Phillip Boykin and Trey Jernigan (North Pitt), Caden O’Brien (Maiden), Will Lancaster (Lexington), Kendal Tucker (North Surry), Tyler Myers (Surry Central), Skylar Brooks and Houston Koon (Wilkes Central), Nate Kinsch and Alec Burleson (East Lincoln), Jeremiah Locklear and Jacob Oxendine (St. Pauls), Davie Morgan (Bunn), Colby Warren and Cameron Rogerson (Roanoke Rapids), Josh Searcy and Kendall McGowan (East Rutherford), Jackson Murray (East Duplin), Holden Laws, Tucker Brown and Luke Bradshaw (South Granville).

The remainder of the NCBCA 3-A All-State Team is Jake Kuchmaner and Jason Cornatzer (Waxhaw Marvin Ridge), Chris Banks (Asheville Reynolds), R.J. Conner (Statesville), Parker Clayton and Tristan Marsh (Asheboro), David Harrison (Rocky Mount), Cameron Kepley (Central Cabarrus), Adolfo Correa-Pena (North Henderson), Topher Grant (Southern Lee), Bennett Nance (Eden Morehead), Coby Ingle (Rockingham County), Cameron Cotter and J.T. Jarrett (Northern Guilford), Riley Cheek (Shelby Crest), Matt Oldham (Pittsboro Northwood), Johnathan Carlyle (West Brunswick), Austin Murphy (Northern Vance), Logan Whitaker and Chris Villaman (Thomasville Ledford), Colby Emmertz (Topsail), Austin Primm (North Gaston), Michael Renwick (Havelock), Chandler Blackwelder and John Owen (East Rowan), Riley Cameron (Cameron Union Pines) and Jake Thomas (Lee County).

paul@wilsontimes.com | 265-7808

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