This time last year, the North Lincoln Knights were winning their first ever 2A baseball state championship with a two-game sweep of Randleman in the best-of-3 series at UNC-Greensboro.
This season, unfortunately, the North Lincoln baseball team did not get the opportunity to defend its state title, after Covid-19 forced the season to be suspended back on March 13, and eventually canceled the entire season.
“First of all, not getting to play baseball in general was disappointing,” said North Lincoln head baseball coach Jon Carpenter. “I hate to not see what we would have done.”
The 2019 team finished off an incredible run one year ago, capping off the championship season with wins of 2-0 and 9-7 over the Tigers of Randleman. The championship-clinching win came after North Lincoln found themselves down 6-2 heading to the fourth inning.
After going 26-6 in 2019, the Knights had jumped out to a 4-1 start this season. The team had four shutout wins, and only a loss at county-rival Lincolnton kept them from being undefeated when play came to a halt.
“It seemed like it was going to be a good conference,” Carpenter said. “Maiden was going to have a good year, East Lincoln was better and Lincolnton had some good, young talent.”
In spite of the early South Fork 2A loss to the Wolves, North Lincoln was still the team to beat in the league. “Pitching-wise, we were set up for a good run,” said Carpenter. “We had four shutouts, and we were going to get Whitley back soon.”
Junior right-hander Seth Whitley had missed the early season with an injured labrum.
While not getting to play the high school season was definitely disappointing for a team with a lot of talent returning, the Knights obviously kept everything in stride. “It’s disappointing,” Carpenter said, “but they (the team) understood the severity of it when you look at the whole picture.”
While Carpenter knows that it’s a sad situation for all of those involved, it’s his seniors that he hates it for the most. Jake Soorus, Sam Brady, Wyatt Manus, Seth Moody, Richie Bragole, Josh Brown and Jonah Johnston won’t get another chance to put on those North Lincoln uniforms.
However, what they will get is the lifelong memory of winning the 2A state championship, and holding the title of “defending champions” still today.
“It seems like it was just yesterday,” Carpenter said.