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WENDELL — Landon Ginn was at a recent Carolina Mudcats game with his teammates when the news reached him that he’d been named the 4-A Player of the Year by the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association.
Just before his Corinth Holders High team was set to be honored at Five-County Stadium for reaching the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A championship series, Pirates head coach Adam Weaver received the news and pulled Ginn aside. Ginn had not only made the all-state team, he’d been declared the best baseball player in the largest classification in the state.
For the rest of the night, he and his teammates — his friends — reveled in the fact that a Pirate had brought home the award.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to celebrate with anyone else,” Ginn said in a telephone interview Friday. “We have each other’s back.”
In 2019, Ginn hit .517 with a .641 on-base percentage. He compiled 46 hits — including five home runs and 12 doubles — scored 32 runs, drove in 35 runs and stole 19 bases on the year. From the mound, Ginn was a perfect 8-0 in his junior campaign, providing the steadying presence — or looseness, as Weaver called it — that the team needed at times.
Despite eye-popping numbers, Ginn admitted the recognition came as a surprise to him. The East Carolina University commit thought he would make the all-state team, but hadn’t considered his name would appear above all the others when the news came out.
“It’s kind of hard to explain, it was just a great feeling honestly,” Ginn said. “If the team hadn’t been good, we probably wouldn’t have been recognized as much.”
Coming into the season, Weaver said he knew that the now-rising senior would be at the center of any success — later proven to be unprecedented success — the Pirates would have in 2019. However, Weaver also said Ginn owes a lot to his teammates and their contributions for elevating the program to the point where he could be honored for his own individual stout play.
“Without his teammates, he wouldn’t have put up the numbers he did,” Weaver said. “It’s a good group of guys — a special group of guys — and they all benefit from having each other. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle.”
In 2019, Corinth Holders had its best baseball season in its eight-year varsity history, leading the baseball team to the final series of the state playoffs against Mooresville for the first time. To cap it off, Ginn brought the school — and Weaver — another first.
As a team — which Weaver considers to be the “most athletic, most complete team” he has ever coached — the Pirates hit .357 from the plate, adding a .420 on-base percentage, while scoring an average of seven runs per game. Now, after a solid year that shone light on the program, the Pirates look forward to the final step they didn’t take last year.
“They didn’t finish with a win,” Weaver said. “That’s the only box they didn’t check off.”
NJ’s Pitts earns all-state
For North Johnston’s Dylan Pitts, the recognition on the 2-A all-state team came as another reward for the strides he made as a pitcher in his junior season.
“I wasn’t expecting to get it,” Pitts said. “When I found out, I was really happy.”
The Panther left hander became the team’s workhorse pitcher in 2019, and didn’t miss a beat in his new role. With a low end-of-season 0.90 ERA, Pitts lost just one game to Hunt and picked up nine wins in 12 appearances. His contributions led the program to the third round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs — and his dominance was rewarded with Eastern Plains Conference Player of the Year honors several weeks ago.
“Dylan had a phenomenal year in the sense that he has grown so much as a pitcher,” head coach Brian Ford said. “To see him mature and compete this year was a great thing to see.”
Pitts said he thought his success from the rubber was a reflection of all the hard work he put in over the summer during travel ball season. But even before that, Ford said he could see “bigger things” lay ahead for the southpaw after being impressed by the way he pitched and handled a playoff loss to North Lenoir as a sophomore.
For all the talk of his arm, Pitts’ also had a solid year from the plate as well, hitting .400 with 24 hits, 21 RBIs and a .552 on-base percentage. Ford said all that Pitts did last season proved to be nothing but positive for the baseball program.
“To have somebody like that to represent us is great,” Ford said. “I firmly believe that we at North Johnston are now on the map for baseball. Kids like Dylan are what you want representing your program.”
Looking ahead to his senior season next spring, Ford said Pitts has even more potential to build on the success of his junior campaign, and predicted he could very well parlay another conference-player-of-the-year honor into an opportunity to play in college. Pitts said after all the accolades, he’s excited for what his final season might bring.
“I love baseball,” Pitts said. “I’m just ready to get back out there with my team.”