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SouthWest Edgecombe keeping upbeat through losses

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SouthWest Edgecombe's T.J. Harris fields a ground ball Friday during the first of two games against Nash Central at Nash Central High School.

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By Ethan Joyce
Sports Writer

Sunday, March 19, 2017

After smoking a double to left field, T.J. Harris was left stranded.

In SouthWest Edgecombe’s last game of a doubleheader against Nash Central on Friday, the junior belted a shot in the third inning that looked like a home run. It caught the upper portion of the fence and stayed in the park. 

Two outs followed, and Harris made the trip from second to the visiting dugout. At that point, the team trailed by seven and had already lost a one-run contest the game before. With only two more innings to play, the Cougars could have just motioned through the rest of the game. 

That didn’t happen. Harris hopped over the foul line and peered at his teammates.

“How many of you guys thought that ball was gone?” Harris chuckled. His SouthWest Edgecombe teammates started chirping. They stayed loud and rowdy throughout that game, just like they had been all afternoon.

SouthWest Edgecombe (0-8 overall) would rally late to make it 13-7 loss. But the team’s energy, and the fact the Cougars stuck with the game, pleased Cougars coach Shelton Langley.

“We haven’t won a game all year, and when it is like that, you have to focus on the mental side of the game,” Langley said. “We’ve had those talks about staying up and staying positive.

“They’ve got baseball talent, they just haven’t put it together in one game. I keep reminding them all the time that they can play baseball, but it is fun to have a group like that.”

The Cougars were tasked with replacing last season’s Telegram All-Area Batter of the Year, Jarratt Mobley. The shortstop, who hit .530 last year, is now at UNC-Pembroke. SouthWest Edgecombe is missing that contact this year. The team had only eight hits in its first four games.

As of late, the team is seeing improvement. SWE had 14 hits against Tarboro and eight against Northern Nash — its two games before playing Nash Central. The Bulldogs no-hit the Cougars in the first game, but SWE had six in the second contest.

“We are hitting better and we’ve focused on hitting,” Langley said. “We talked about it at practice one day. We can play perfect defense, but if we don’t score, we aren’t going to do nothing.

“We’ve been shutout three times, so it’s been a bunch of tee work and soft toss and bunting at practice. Seven runs is a big deal for us.”

Normally the third baseman, the 6-foot-4 Harris shifts to shortstop when Cody Fuller pitches, like he did in the first game against Nash Central. Harris said it has been difficult adjusting to an offense without Mobley. Not surprisingly, Harris said the team would’ve liked to win by now. If the Cougars can find a little bit of consistency, Harris thinks the team will figure it out. That is why it is important to keep moral up until that victory comes.  

“It is a struggle,” Harris said. “Like coach said, if we pitch good, we don’t hit good. If we hit good, we may pitch fine, but they cream us. 

“Once we get that first win, we are going to be OK.”

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