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Jeff Petty likes his pitching staff. No, strike that. Jeff Petty absolutely loves his pitching staff.
“I think our pitchers are professional prospects and could pitch in college right now,” Petty told Perfect Game USA.
That’s saying quite a bit, because most of the pitchers on his Canes North 16U team are just entering their junior year in high school. One of them is just a sophomore, but Petty has evidence that confirms his pitchers are pretty special.
The Canes North rode the depth of their pitching staff to the title at the WWBA 16U National Championships in July, convincing the staff at Perfect Game to name the Canes the top 16-&-under team in the country this year.
“All the kids are happy with it,” Petty said. “With that honor comes a lot of responsibility. Everyone is going to be coming after you. That’s the thing we’ll be telling our kids. With that comes responsibility. That’s the challenge.”
Dillon Maples, a right-hander from Aberdeen, N.C., pitched a no-hitter against the Florida Mustangs in the championship game of the WWBA tournament in Georgia. Ronald Womack, a lefty from Raeford, N.C. with a 92 mph fastball, tossed a complete game against the Carolina Cyclones in the semifinals of that tournament, going all eight innings before the Canes prevailed on a tiebreaker. They are two of the top pitchers on the staff, but they were not alone.
Jake Cave, a left-hander from Hampton, Va., has committed to play at LSU after he graduates from high school in 2011. There’s also Tyler Beede (Auburn, Mass.), Michael Gilroy (Columbia, S.C.), Jordan Ramsey (Lexington, N.C.), Ryan Mayhew (Clemmons, N.C.) and Curt Britt (Laurinburg, Va.).
Petty, 27, lives in northern Virginia, and he has players from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts and Texas on his roster. Petty was a high school baseball coach at the tender age of 22 and started the Hurricanes program in 2006. He currently has eight teams, ranging in age from 15U through 18U.
“I just wanted to get high school all-star players who were college or professional prospects. That was the starting point,” he said. “I didn’t know it would turn into this.”
Petty does not coach high school baseball anymore, but he still teaches physical education at a school in Virginia. He’s the General Manager of Hurricanes Baseball and also is an associate scout for the New York Yankees.
The Canes North had more than pitchers on their team this year, of course.
“Offensively, I think we have more than a handful of hitters that I would say are (among) the top hitters in the country in this age division,” Petty remarked. “It’s not a deal where we have one or two superstars carrying the load. There are several kids who can swing it with the best of them.”
Petty listed Joshua Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.), Kyle Martin (Simpsonville, S.C.), Grayson Atwood (Mt. Pleasant, N.C.), Luke Dunlap (Walnut Grove, N.C.), Cameron Capell (Louisburg, N.C.), Nick Thompson (Chesapeake, Va.), Cave and Britt as some of the top hitters on the club. He called Landon Lassiter (High Point, N.C.) an outstanding shortstop, and listed Travis Myers (Heathsville, Va.) as a top prospect behind the plate with a strong arm.
Tobias, an infielder, has committed to the University of Florida. Capell, an outfielder and catcher, has committed to South Carolina. Daniel Gossett, a pitcher from Lyman, S.C., has committed to Clemson.