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The best players Gastonia and Shelby coaches have ever seen

Every spring, dozens of high school baseball and softball players take the field with teammates in a joint pursuit of NCHSAA and NCISAA state gold. Of these, a few will become household names in their own right.

We granted area coaches anonymity, allowing them to provide perspective on a range of topics impacting high school athletics, as part of a series entitled “Coaches Confidential.” Today’s question: In your time as a player, assistant or head coach, who are the best players you have had the opportunity to see firsthand?

Coaches from across the tri-state area received an email asking them to submit answers. Here are their responses.

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FAVORITE BALL PARKS: Coaches Confidential: Which ballpark is Gastonia’s favorite, Shelby coaches?

Cherryville, bigs from Bessemer City

“Ralph Roberts of Cherryville; he could do it all. Hit for power, a shutdown pitcher, excellent outfielder.

“Ralph Roberts was the best player I’ve ever seen. He could change the game at the plate, in the field and on the mound.”

“(Bessemer City product) Chris Mason dominated high school baseball and the American Legion.

“Chris Mason and Ralph Roberts were both dominant on the mound.”

North Gaston softball product a born leader

“Megan Towery from North Gaston. Not only was she a leader, but she had great fundamentals. She was a team player who was always humble about her success.”

“Megan Towery of North Gaston and Jordan McCorkle of East Gaston are great hitters.”

Next level athletes

“I played against Madison Bumgarner several times in (American Legion) and high school baseball. I have had the pleasure of competing against many major leagues in my playing days, but he is definitely the one that stands out the most.”

“(East Lincoln product) Alec Burleson, (former Major Leaguer) Ryan Cusick and (Kings Mountain alum) Will Wilson. Two of those are first-round draft picks. They were head and shoulders above everyone else.”

Laundry list of local talents

“(Austyn Dixon, Kings Mountain softball) hit three home runs against us two years ago.”

“Graham Smiley from East Lincoln. Being a catcher myself, I loved watching him compete behind the plate.

“Shelby’s Jackson Mims and former Burns High standouts Jamie Ray and Adam McSwain.”

“Spencer Britton from North Gaston, a 2018 graduate who played the game the right way. He was a tough player and a really tough player.”

“So much, but I remain recent. (NC State sophomore and North Lincoln product) Matt Heavner; From the moment he walked in there, I was a big fan of his glove and footwork. That kid was one to watch, he was an incredible infielder.”

“Sayge Strange from Burns High School. She is one of the best pitchers I have seen in high school softball.”

“Madison Armstrong of Highland Tech softball.”

“Kings Mountain alum and USC Upstate Sports Hall of Famer Morgan Childers was a great pitcher.”

Others on coaches’ honor rolls

“Ashton Ward from Butler. She went on to play softball at the University of Tennessee and at Virginia Tech.”

“Lucas Sims, Cristin Stewart, Clint Frazier and Matt Olsen; all of whom went on to play in the big leagues.”

“Lani Warren, RS Central softball. One of the most versatile players I have ever coached against. Huge threat at the plate offensively and behind the plate as a catcher. Incredible arms. Moreover, she conducted herself with grace and humility.”

“(East Rutherford baseball) Chad Flack was a monster at the plate.”

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