Southside slowly building upwards

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, May 20, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Last week saw Paul Radford, Hunter Sparks, Marshall Medlock and Dahlton O’Neal play their last game in a Southside baseball uniform. The Seahawks were downed, 11-1, at Falls Lake Academy in the first round of the 1-A baseball playoffs on May 10.

Southside lost four of its first five 1-A Coastal Plains Conference games after starting the season with five wins in a row. Of those shortcomings, two were in extra innings and two were by one run.

Coach Kevin McRoy had outlined goals for the season. The Seahawks met some of them and fell short of others.

“We wanted to finish at a certain place in conference,” he said. Southside ranked fifth in the league. Another win or two would have been enough to hurdle a rebuilding East Carteret team, which would have yielded more favorable playoff seeding.

“We wanted to win a playoff game. We had never done that before. There were some small, little goals, too. We’re trying to take the program to the next step. That was out motto this year. … We did well. These guys worked hard. We’re pleased with it. When you look back and six of the losses are one-run or extra-innings games, you’ve got to know you were at least in just about every game.”

Cody Modlin makes a throw to first base. Modlin is one of many key cogs that should be back next year.

There will still be some goals left to accomplish when the Seahawks take the field again in a year. Southside fell short of that next step — a postseason win — this time around. However, McRoy looks fondly upon what this senior class accomplished over the past few years.

“This group of seniors, they’re the first class I’ve had the opportunity to coach all four years,” he said. “They’ve done a number of things for the program here that’s never been done before. They’re going to be hard to replace when you look at Hunter, Dahlton, Marshall and Paul. They’re four great kids that have done everything we’ve asked of them.

“… It was very emotional. When I talked to them in the last game, I remember one of them looking at me and saying, ‘Coach, just shut up.’ You talk about being a family out here. I’ve got two little girls at home, but I’ve got 15 sons here.”

It’s never too early for McRoy to look ahead. He’s already hoping that next February will see Southside add some more bricks to what its been building for the past few seasons.

“As soon as it’s over, you start looking ahead,” McRoy said. He wants to see an improvement in fundamentals next year. “I’m looking at some key pieces since I’ve been here.”

That includes top-notch pitchers in Brantley Cutler, Cody Modlin and others. Southside will have plenty of experience if it returns all seven juniors from this year’s squad.

“I’ve hopefully got some guys that will step up next year. We’ve got some good, key pieces returning,” McRoy said.