Baseball playoff preview: Eagles have high hopes

East Davidson catcher Nathan Campbell catches a pop-up between home and first base against West Davidson last Thursday. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

East Davidson baseball coach Dan Tricarico doesn’t necessarily want to beat a dead horse about last season.

But his Eagles have used it as motivation, and it has obviously worked.

East advanced to the fourth round of the 2-A state playoffs last season before losing in a controversial weather call at East Rutherford. As the Eagles prepare to open the postseason by hosting High Point Andrews on Friday, Tricarico recognizes how much of a factor last season has been in his team going 20-3 and sweeping through the Central Carolina Conference. “The kids have used that all season,” he said. “We don’t really talk about it, but I think it’s something that burns in everybody’s gut.

“If we don’t get at least that far this year … I don’t want to put that on our kids. They’ve had a phenomenal season, and I’m very proud of them. But if we don’t get that far, we’re gonna feel like we haven’t accomplished what we set out to do.”

High Point Andrews seems to be a heavy underdog. The Raiders finished the regular season 5-18, but that was good enough for a fourth-place finish in the PAC-6.

Beating the Eagles, led by pitchers Braxton Shetley and Avery Bowles and outfielder Tyler Stroup, looks like a tall order for Andrews. Tricarico will make sure his squad doesn’t take them lightly, however. “I like where we are as far as playing and all,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter what’s happened up until this point.

“Everything starts over again on Friday.”

That may be a good thing for North coach Mike Meadows. The Knights were relegated to the gym Monday and Tuesday, then got outside on a limited basis Wednesday. After winning the Central Piedmont Conference, North didn’t exactly impress Meadows as it prepares to host Providence (15-12), the No. 3 seed from the Southwestern Conference, at 7 p.m. Friday. “If we play like we practiced today, they’ll be getting ready for the prom on Saturday,” he said. “If we’re just happy getting to the playoffs, it’ll be over Saturday.”

Finishing second in the Central Piedmont Conference regular season sent North into a section of the playoff bracket that matches up with the Southwestern Conference. While Providence is not at the level it has been in recent years, Meadows knows this will not be a gimme. “Annually, they’re a powerhouse in the state,” he said. “They’ve had some of the best talent in the state over the last five years.

“They’ve got some talented teams now, but they’re very young.”

North has a pair of solid arms in Andrew Mayton and Josh Roberson, who usually keep the Knights in every game. They will have to continue that trend if the Knights hope to make a deep run at the 4-A level.

Elsewhere, West Davidson (14-11), the CCC’s No. 3 seed, travels to face Northwest Conference champion West Stokes (16-9) Central Davidson (8-13) visits Wilkes Central (21-5), which won the Mountain Valley. In the 3-A playoffs, Ledford (10-12) visits Gray’s Creek (16-5), the champion of the Cape Fear Valley Conference.

All games are slated to start at 7 p.m. Friday.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or