GREENSBORO-Summer is a prime time for North Carolina A&T baseball players to prepare for another year competition. While many student-athletes spend the summer hours working out in the gym and getting a jump start on their strength and conditioning, baseball players compete in various wooden bat summer collegiate leagues around the region.
A&T standouts Luke Tendler, Brandon Wilkerson, Stefan Jordan, Dairio Little, Andre McKoy, Tyler Boone, Brent Moore and Shane Carter are all competing in various summer leagues this offseason.
"Participating in summer leagues is important because our players can gain some more experience and get some more reps, especially for the offensive guys," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez, who completed his first season at the helm of the program in 2012. "And for the pitchers, they get to continue to work on their stuff facing the wooden bat. For pitchers you can gain some confidence in pitching more to contact."
Competing in summer collegiate leagues is not only a great way to stay in shape for the upcoming 2013 season, but is a crucial way of showcasing their skills for professional scouts, who are looking for players who can compete professionally with wooden bats.
"Those leagues are good leagues," Sanchez said. "You're facing good pitching and the pitchers are facing some good hitters. So they continue to get experience, continue to work on some fundamentals of baseball that they can hopefully carry into the following season."
And the Aggies are succeeding in their summer league competition.
All-MEAC second-team third baseman Luke Tendler, who posted a 20-game hitting streak for the Aggies this past season, is playing with the Asheboro Copperheads of the Coastal Plains League. For the Aggies in 2012, Tendler batted .305 with 10 doubles, six triples, six home runs and a team-leading 55 RBI. He was one of five players to hit over .300 for the Aggies.
Aggies can be found in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League and the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League as well. Rising sophomore outfielder Brandon Wilkerson is a member of the Lake Norman Copperheads while catcher and rising junior Stefan Jordan is competing with the Pineville Pioneers in the SCBL. Wilkerson, who ended the 2012 season with a pair of MEAC Rookie of the Week honors, a .328 batting average, four doubles, five triples and 24 RBI, is having a strong summer with the Copperheads. Wilkerson has helped Lake Norman by hitting better than .300.
The Pioneers are the defending SCBL Champions, and are making a run for another title this summer. Jordan had a strong year for the Aggies, batting .260 for the Aggies in 40 games.
The Kernersville Bulldogs in the CVCL feature rising senior outfielders Dairio Little and Andre McKoy, and rising junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Boone. The Bulldogs are at the top of the standings, and are looking to win their 10th league championship crown. McKoy is hitting the ball well, scoring runs and stealing bases.
McKoy, who was the Aggies starting left fielder in 2012, batted .298 with 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 31 RBI this spring for A&T. Little is also playing well. In 55 games for A&T this year, the starting right fielder hit .264 with 13 doubles and 28 RBI, with a team-high 28 walks. Boone has tallied a 2.74 ERA (7 ER/23.0 IP) with a 4-2 record in six starts. He has struck out 22 and allowed just eight walks this season for the Bulldogs. Boone posted a 5-6 record and a 4.68 ERA (40 ER/77.0 IP) with 51 strikeouts for A&T as the No. 2 starter in 2012.
Brent Moore is competing in the Greensboro National Adult/Collegiate Baseball League. The southpaw pitcher and rising senior is a member of the Greensboro Reds team.
Moore finished the 2012 season with a team-best 3.01 ERA, a 5-6 record and 37 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. He's picked right up where he left off in May with the Aggies. Moore holds a 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP after 15 innings pitched. He's fanned 12 and allowed just one walk in three appearances for a 2-1 record for the Reds.
Getting A&T student-athletes involved in summer leagues is a priority for the baseball coaching staff.