NCAT Baseball gearing up for conference play

NCAT Baseball gearing up for conference play

Alexis Davis, theSCORE Lead Reporter

The Big South conference has come with its ups and downs as N.C. A&T begins to navigate its new footing. However, Aggie baseball appears to be on the rise with new additions to the coaching staff. 

 Aggie baseball has the upper hand in the Big South conference because they have seen many of their Big South competitors in the past. In addition, new Assistant coach Elijah Cummings has quickly turned things around for the team.

Prior to coming to N.C. A&T Cummings spent a year in Radford, VA where he volunteered with the Radford University Highlanders. Radford is also a member of the Big South conference. While Cummings was a volunteer assistant, the Highlanders had a 19-8 conference record. Cummings main focus here in Aggieland is being a resource for the outfielders. He will also add to their offense and be an essential part of recruiting incoming players.

Additionally, N.C. A&T baseball welcomes Breydam Gorham. Gorham will be responsible for making sure Aggie catchers are bringing their A-game while also being an all-around guide for the program. All of the camp logistics will be in the hands of Gorham. 

When Gorham was a collegiate player himself, he made an impact on the programs at Appalachian State and UNC- Wilmington. During his career at UNCW, he had 71 strikeouts. While at Appalachian State, he led the staff.

“He was a standout player at two good programs and has a great future ahead in coaching,” N.C. A&T baseball head coach Ben Hall said 

During the 2019 season, Aggieland received right-handed pitcher Evan Gates from Mott Community College. At the beginning of his career, he was a weekend starter. As he got more reps in as an Aggie, his talent became undeniable due to his control and pitching versatility. 

He has a skilled fastball, change up, and breaking ball pitch. This led him to 25 appearances with 11 starts and 89 career strikeouts in 80.2 innings pitched. In his career as an Aggie, he has a 5-5 record with a 3.59 ERA. Gates is now playing Major League Baseball (MLB) as a San Francisco Giant.

 “Being in that conference and seeing the things that they do, he may bring an edge from a scouting aspect of knowing what these teams like to do,” Evan Gates, former Aggie right-handed pitcher and current San Francisco Giants player said. “It won’t be everyone’s first time seeing a lot of these teams. If we have a guy that has prior knowledge of what these teams are like that will definitely have its perks and advantages.”

Several players on the current team are optimistic about what’s in store for them in the coming games.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the new conference and seeing what our team can do in the Big South,” second baseman Justice Panton said. “We have a lot of talent at all positions on the field and I feel like we are going to make a good run in this conference not only this year, but in the future as well.”

Many team members are also excited to gain knowledge from the hires.

“So far, we have a few new coaches,” outfielder TJ Ash said. “They are really experienced and know a lot about the game. I’m also excited about the opportunity to get to know my new teammates.”

While reflecting on his time as an Aggie, Gates explains the importance of making every game count.

“In this past season we played 54 games and even at the pro level you play 162 games, but it may come down to one game in which you don’t make the playoffs,” Gates said. “There are a couple of teams in the MLB that won 92 games this past season, but they missed the playoffs by one game. You never know what each game may mean. You better be focused, in case your name gets called.”

Aggie fans can foreshadow the current athletes internalizing this advice. The schedule for their upcoming season is still pending.

Aggie baseball went 22-32 last season in their last year in the MEAC. Although their schedule is unknown thus far, the Aggies look to improve their record, especially against conference opponents.