GREENSBORO – Charles Cantrell’s successful summer may turn the North Carolina A&T baseball team into a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference contender in the spring.
Cantrell, who logged 67.1 innings in his first season as an Aggie after transferring from El Camino Compton Community College, recently played in the Valley Baseball League All-Star game as a representative of the Winchester Royals (Va.).
The California native deserved the all-star selection. Hitters from the collegiate summer league have found it difficult to have any success against him. He has a 0.65 ERA with 19 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 4-0 record in 27.2 innings pitched, and he is pitching in league that isn’t comprised of slouches.
The Valley Baseball League, which plays a 44-game season in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is considered one of the five best summer collegiate baseball leagues in the country. It has produced more than 1,000 professional baseball players. Twenty-seven Valley League alumni were playing in the Major Leagues last season, and 48 former players from the league were drafted in the 2014 MLB Draft.
“I think I have been able to see some good talent this summer,” said Cantrell. “I feel like I can go into (the next A&T baseball season) with a lot of confidence knowing I had some strong performances here.”
Cantrell contributed part of his success to the wooden bat. Collegiate summer leagues use the wooden bat instead of the aluminum bat.
“It’s a lot easier for me to pitch to a guy holding a wooden bat,” said Cantrell. “I know I can throw inside better and break a bat easily. It’s much easier to throw to.”
In the land where aluminum bats are used – college baseball – Cantrell got off to a fast start for the Aggies in 2014. On March 23 he was 4-1 with a 1.63 ERA and coming off a complete-game five-hitter that resulted in a 15-1 win at Savannah State. It was Cantrell’s last win of the season as he failed to win his last four starts. He did appear to catch his rhythm toward the end of the season when he went 10 innings and struck out seven in a tough loss at Florida A&M on May 3. He also pitched two innings of scoreless relief against Winthrop on May 7.
He finished the season ranked fourth in the nation in complete games with six. His goals for 2015 are to graduate and hopefully fulfill his dream of being drafted by an MLB team. Cantrell and his Aggie teammates will begin fall practice on Sept. 2 in anticipation for the start of their season in late February.
“I’m excited about what I did this summer and for next year,” said Cantrell. “It was an honor to be selected for the all-star team because there were scouts there, so I could showcase my talent. I think I did well even though I only pitched one inning. I still think I was able to show them I have some good pitches.”