Duke to participate in the state games|Pam Pack star will be joined by Tigers’ duo

Published 10:47 pm Sunday, June 13, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Jake Duke has been a hit for Washington ever since he stepped on the scene as a freshman and grabbed a starting spot in the Pam Pack’s lineup, one of which the rising senior is yet to relinquish.
Duke’s exploits at the plate and on the field have been no secret or surprise to the Pam Pack faithful, but next week he will get to show off his skills to a wide variety of onlookers when he plays for the Region 1 team at the Powerade State Games in Charlotte.
Duke, along with Williamston’s Will Gurganus and Christian Leggett, will play a four-game, round-robin style tournament that stretches over three days starting on June 17.
The trio each had to attend a rigorous tryout session in which they battled some of the best players from the eastern portion of the state to make the squad.
Despite the heavy competition, Duke said he was relaxed during the process.
“I wasn’t really nervous about it,” Duke said. “Everything went good and the workout was smooth.”
Williamston coach Hank Tice, who is an assistant coach on the Region 1 team, said that putting together the team was no easy task.
“It’s a tough team to select because there are so many good players that tryout and we can only take 20. You have to go out and try to evaluate everybody,” Tice said. “I’m just really happy for all the kids that made it. It’s a real good opportunity for those players; they will be looked at by tons of scouts.”
Duke, who made the team as an alternate last season, played shortstop for the Pack this season, but will be asked to move to the other side of the diamond for the state games. Duke said he was not phased by the switch.
“I will mostly be playing second base,” Duke said. “It really doesn’t matter to me (what position I play), I don’t really care.”
Duke’s casual attitude extends to the plate where his self-described approach is “relaxed.”
While Duke may be loose in the batter’s box, it’s when he is on the on-deck circle, that he amps up his focus.
“Usually I try to pick up on the pitcher’s pitches while other guys are up at bat,” Duke said. “I’ll pick up little things that the pitcher gives off when he is throwing different pitches.”
Duke, Gurganus and Leggett are three of the 20 athletes that make up the roster which is coached by North Pitt’s Ryan Meadows, along with Williamston’s Tice, Camden’s Mickey Drew and D.H. Conley’s Jason Mills.
Duke said he is not sure if he will be on the opening day starting lineup, but said that everybody will receive equal playing time.
“If you don’t start the first game you will play the last three innings of that game, and the next day you will start but sit out the last three innings of that game,” Duke said.