Opportunity knocksPublished 5:46pm Friday, June 7, 2013
WILLIAMSTON — Opportunity and base knocks will combine for four area baseball players this summer as Washington’s Patrick Thompson will be joined by Riverside’s Mathen Ange, Lawrence Smith and Clay Wagner at the 2013 Powerade State Games.
The quartet battled nearly 50 athletes to earn a spot on the 20-person Region 1 roster that will be guided by Riverside coach Hank Tice, who will act as the team’s head coach, along Washington’s Ryan Whitney, who will serve as one of three assistant coaches.
The games, which start on June 19 an end on the 23rd, will be played at UNC-Charlotte and offer the rising stars an opportunity to play in front of 85-plus college scouts.
“It’s a big deal,” Tice said. “We’ve struggled in past years up there winning games but winning isn’t really the emphasis, it’s about guys getting a chance to get looked at.”
Tice, who has been on the State Games coaching staff for the past 12 seasons, said that selecting the roster was a difficult task.
“We go through a pro-style workout and put the kids at the position they want to tryout for and we evaluate every player,” Tice said. “It’s an unfair situation, we cut a lot of good players. We had 48 kids tryout for our team and we had to select 20. We could have easily selected another five to eight kids that had just as good of a chance to make it as the guys that did make it. At the end of the day it comes down to: you have to be able to run and you have to be able to throw. If you can’t do those two things then it’s hard to make this team.”
In Ange, Smith, Thompson and Wagner, Tice believes he selected kids that clearly met the qualifications.
“Mathen Ange is a rising senior that made it as a middle infielder. He ran the 60 in 6.5 seconds, which is one of the fastest times in the 12 years I’ve been doing this. He’s an unbelievable baseball player and he plays the game the right way,” Tice said. “Lawrence Smith is a rising senior that made it as an outfielder. He has above average arm strength and is one of the best hitters in our area from the left side.
“Clay Wagner is rising junior. He didn’t play as many varsity games as some of the other guys that tried out but he played enough to qualify. He was the second best catcher there. He’s around a two-flat guy around the bag and after the tryouts it was obvious he was one of the top-two catchers there.
“Patrick Thompson, a rising junior, was about 82-84 (MPH) off the mound and Coach Whitney spoke really high of him. We liked the way the ball came out of his hands off the mound.
“We’re excited for the kids that did make it and we want the kids that didn’t make it to come out and try and get better and to continue perusing there dream of playing on the next level.”
For Tice, the 2013 games will be his last. After serving on the state games staff for 12 straight seasons Tice said he is eager to spend some extra time with his family.
“After this year my State Games career will be over,” Tice said. “I’m ready to turn my summer attention to my family. It’s only a week but it’s always tough leaving my wife and kids. It’s fun when we get up there and watch the kids play baseball but deep down in your gut you’re ready to go home and see your family.”