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Whitehead named baseball Player of the Year

He has the talent, the work ethic and the championship credentials.

Those things led Chad Whitehead to an opportunity to play collegiate baseball and to his selection as the All-Roanoke-Chowan Player of the Year.

During his senior season at Lawrence Academy, Whitehead anchored a unit that captured its third straight North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association state title.

A stellar pitcher with a 4-1 mark that included a 1.60 Earned Run Average and 53 strikeouts, Whitehead also led his team on the offensive side. He hit at a .465 clip with six homeruns, nine doubles and 27 RBIs. He also recorded 10 runs scored and a .624 on-base percentage.

Whitehead was also named All-State for the fourth consecutive season and was Tarheel Independent Conference Player of the Year.

“To me, Chad is the complete package,” Lawrence Academy Head Baseball Coach Robert Kravitz said. “He is a talented baseball player, but also has great leadership qualities and his work ethic is unparalleled.

“His numbers are excellent, but the intangibles he brings to the table are exceptional,” he said. “He has great character too. It’s hard to find a student-athlete with talent and also the ambition he has.”

Whitehead said he appreciated the individual honors, especially the four All-State selections, but it was more about the championships.

“It means a lot to be recognized like that,” Whitehead said. “It means that my hard work has paid off with a little bit of individual recognition. While I’m very honored and humbled by those awards, it is about the state championships for me.”

Championships were something Whitehead became accustomed to during his five-year varsity career with the Warriors. He came up as an eighth grader and played on two state runner up teams before helping lead Lawrence to a trio of NCISAA championships.

“Chad came up when he was in the eighth grade and was sort of a project,” Kravitz remembered. “He has matured from a project to a leader and to a young man who has meant a lot to the Lawrence Academy baseball program.

“We have had a lot of success over the past several years and Chad and his fellow seniors have been a major part of that,” the coach added.

With his prep playing days behind him, Whitehead has a bright future in baseball planned at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

“I loved the campus and the school was really nice,” Whitehead said of the decision. “I liked the coaches and facilities as well.”

Whitehead has been a pitcher and catcher for the Warriors most of his career and will likely be working as a pitcher for UNC-P during the coming season. He has also played first base and third base.

The love for the game of baseball that is leading him to a collegiate career was developed early.

“I’ve been playing since I was five years old or maybe even before that,” Whitehead said. “I would follow my brother around and that’s what he did, so it’s what I did too.”

Whitehead also gives much of the credit for the player he has become to his coach.

“Coach Kravitz has taught me so much about baseball,” he said. “He has been great. He’s not only a coach; he’s been there for everything I’ve needed.”

He also credited his parents with being there and helping him in his baseball career.

Whitehead was also appreciative of his teammates at Lawrence.

“It’s been like playing baseball with a family,” he said. “All my best friends came off the last three teams I’ve played with at Lawrence.

“We’ve won a lot of baseball games, but most importantly, we’ve had fun doing it,” he added. “We just did what we loved and the winning came naturally.”

Whitehead is the son of Charles and Neenie Whitehead of Windsor.

Best Offensive Player – Brandon Warren

During his junior season, Brandon Warren went on an offensive tear for the Hertford County High School Bears.

During the campaign, Warren hit .582 with eight homeruns and 41 RBIs.

“Brandon had an excellent season,” HCHS baseball boss Chris Towell said. “His numbers speak for themselves. You couldn’t ask for much more out of a player.”

Warren was also Northeastern Coastal Conference Player of the Year.

He is the son of Stan and Michelle Warren of Murfreesboro.

Best Defensive Player – Blake Hill

Blake Hill led the Lawrence Academy defense that was one of the top units in the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association.

“We had an excellent defensive team and Blake was a leader in that area,” Lawrence skipper Robert Kravitz said. “We could always count on him to get us an out when the ball was hit his way.”

He was the starting second baseman and outfield for the Warriors.

Hill is the son of Wayne and Mary Beth Hill of Windsor.

Best Pitcher – Nathaniel Simpson

Nathaniel Simpson was rock solid for a Gates County High School baseball team that made its way deep into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Simpson was 8-1 as a pitcher during the season with a 1.43 Earned Run Average and struck out 69 batters to pace the Red Barons to a 20-4 season.

“Nathaniel was just outstanding this season,” Gates County Coach Jonathan Hayes said. “He led our team to an terrific season.”

Simpson is the son of Jeffrey and Elaine Simpson of Sunbury.

Jonathan Hayes – Coach of the Year

Gates County High School had an outstanding season by anyone’s estimation. The Red Barons won 20 games, made the Eastern semifinals and claimed the Tar-Roanoke Conference championship.

None of that would have been possible without the guiding hand of Head Coach Jonathan Hayes. The coach helped take his team through the T-RC wars and then defetly led them all the way to the Eastern semis where they suffered a narrow 6-5 setback.

His hard work, dedication and guidance of the Red Barons led Hayes to be named the All-Roanoke-Chowan Coach of the Year.

The First Team All-Roanoke-Chowan selections in baseball included:

Chad Whitehead, Lawrence Academy

Brandon Warren, Hertford County High

Blake Hill, Lawrence Academy

Nathaniel Simpson, Gates County High

Evan Holton, Lawrence Academy

Cameron Peed, Lawrence Academy

Scott Edge, Lawrence Academy

Marvin Harrell, Hertford County High

Daniel Merritt, Hertford County High

Matt Murphy, Northampton-East

Graham Hobbs, Gates County High

Zeek Williams, Bertie High