Memories of 2021 Still Fueling Post 11

Memories of 2021 Still Fueling Post 11

Painful memories can either create a sense of fear to revisit the source of that pain or ignite a motivation to conquer those feelings once and for all.

When Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate discusses his team’s exit from the 2021 North Carolina American Legion state tournament, his responses are measured and the intensity in his voice tells you all you need to know about his desire to erase those painful memories.

Post 11 opens the postseason at 7 p.m. on Thursday when it hosts Durham Post 416 in game one of the best-of-five Area I West division semifinal series. In its only meeting of the season with Durham, Wayne County earned a 12-2 win.

The winner of the Wayne County and Durham series will face either Louisburg or Fuquay-Varina in the Area I West division finals.

“We’ve had some disappointing playoff losses the last few years,” Pate said. “We’ve got guys still on our team that were a part of our state tournament team in 2021 who want to get back and that’s their goal. There’s a lot to look forward to and their leadership is irreplaceable and beyond the stat sheet.”

Steadied by no shortage of veterans throughout its roster, Wayne County has been able to lean on its leadership all summer. Post 11 has five college freshman who have helped compile impressive numbers on the mound as well as at the plate.

Wayne County (24-3) is hitting .358 as a team and has 10 players who are batting .300 or better. Post 11 has stolen 172 bases and has won its last 11 games.

“We have seven or eight guys that have been in our program for three years,” Pate said. “You think about the guys we have from the University of Mount Olive. A couple of those guys have only played two years, but they’re pivotal leaders. The team looks to them. You can see guys look to them when certain things happen, good or bad.”

On the mound, Carter Gipson, Carson Gipson, Will Pennington, Nate Smith and Cohen Waddell have helped Wayne County hold opponents to fewer than four runs a game. The Post 11 pitching staff has recorded 192 strikeouts.

“Will Pennington, Carter Gipson, Carson Gipson those are guys who have been a part of our program for a while,” Pate said. “We have several guys who have been a part of our program for numerous years. We have a lot of depth in our bullpen, and a lot of guys we have confidence in on the mound.”

A few months ago, as Post 11 prepared for its first summer in the Area I West Division after four decades in the East, Pate and his players discussed their goals for the summer. Among those goals included a top seed for the playoffs, and of course, the state tournament.

“We shifted to the West, which is different,” Pate said. “Not playing Pitt (County), Wilson and Kinston in conference games, definitely makes for a different feel for your summer. The games we had with those teams this summer were all close. Going to the West, our goal was to be the one-seed, and we were able to do that. That’s behind us quickly. The state tournament’s the goal. That’s the ultimate goal for any legion team that wants to be playing in July. With it being at Campbell (University) our guys are excited. Hopefully, we’ll play well here the next couple of weeks.”