Stephens posts no-hitter, then adds another win
Strong-armed Southern pitcher Larry Stephens Jr. threw a no-hitter to help his summer-league team shut out East Chapel Hill 7-0 on Monday.
“I was listening to my dad and coaches telling me that I was dragging my arm, and I tried to fix that each inning,” Stephens said. “I actually threw more of my curveball than I usually do, and that was working out for me.”
Southern coach Avery Bryant said Stephens was on point.
“He got it over a bunch,” Bryant said about the curveball. “Those guys were really off balance.”
Stephens (6-2, 140) plays for a combined team that includes players from Voyager Academy. The summer squad is led by Voyager coach Pete Shankle, and Bryant is the assistant coach.
The Southern-Voyager team wraps up the summer session Thursday against Orange at Southern.
Before Stephens tossed that no-hitter, Bryant told him that baseball scouts would be at the diamond that evening.
“I told him to have his ‘A’ game ready,” Bryant said.
The scouts didn’t show up, and Stephens, a rising junior, was bummed. Bryant said he explained that life happens like that sometimes.
“I understand,” Stephens said about the scouts. “It’s OK that they didn’t come. I’m just glad that I got the win and made my coaches and my family proud.
“That was my first high school no-hitter.”
And he wasn’t finished.
Stephens left the mound at Southern and wound up at historic Durham Athletic Park, where his Long Ball Bulls recreational league team was in a 4-4 deadlock with the Long Ball Volcanoes, Larry Stephens Sr. said. The younger Stephens slipped on a Bulls jersey and fanned five batters in two innings, lifting another team to victory.
“He was on fire,” Larry Sr. said about his son’s performance in the 5-4 win. “I mean, he was on fire.”
Shankle to address Sports Club
Shankle is the luncheon speaker today at the Durham Sports Club’s lunch meeting at Croasdaile Country Club.
The veteran coach has found success with the Voyager program that is entering its fourth season, but Shankle is best known for the 19 years that he coached Southern and for the four years that he led Northern. His Southern teams twice played for the state championship, and the field at Southern is called Shankle Stadium.
The upcoming season will be Voyager’s third since joining the N.C. High School Athletic Association, which made the Vikings eligible to play for state titles.
In 2012, the first year Voyager was allowed to play for a state championship, the Vikings lost their title shot to South Stanly with a team made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Shankle is executive director of the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association that promotes baseball throughout the state.
Bull City takes title
The Bull City Little League’s 11-12 all-stars won another district title, beating South Durham Little League 6-1 in Garner on Monday.
BCLL’s Ray Palma pitched a complete game, giving up two hits. He swung the bat pretty well, also, doubling in the sixth inning to drive in BCLL’s final runs.
Before that, BCLL’s Austin Bailey was at the plate with two outs and two strikes against him in the sixth. But he crunched a double that yielded two runs and broke open a 2-1 game.
BCLL’s Joey Berini went 2-for-3 and scored two runs, and BCLL’s Bryce Jackson was 2-for-2, crossing home plate for a run.
The win positioned BCLL to play for third consecutive state championship in Charlotte beginning Saturday. A run at the national title would require getting through the Southeast regional competition in Warner Robins, Ga., before a shot at playing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.