The 64-team field is set for this year’s NCAA College Baseball Division I Tournament as five teams within a three-hour drive of the Port City (UNCW, College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, N.C. State) earned spots in this year’s national event.
The tournament wraps up with the College World Series June 13-24, in Omaha, Nebraska.
With the exception of four local ballplayers, all the other area standouts are wrapped up for the season and will soon begin their stints in various summer leagues across the country.
Here’s a look at the final stats for the dozen or so local ballplayers making strides at college level.
Below are 2015 statistics through May 25:
Joe O’Donnell, sophomore, RHP, N.C. State, Hoggard
Chance Shepard, junior, C, N.C. State, Ashley
Shane Shepard, freshman, INF, N.C. State, Ashley
The resurgent Wolfpack advanced to the ACC Tournament Championship game before falling 6-2 to Florida State in front of a championship game record 9,759 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Chance Shepard went 2-for-3 in the ballgame, while O’Donnell struck out the side in a scoreless inning of relief.
N.C. State earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and head to Fort Worth, Texas, as a No. 2 seed in the regional, which will be hosted by Texas Christian University.
O’Donnell has served as reliable option out of the Wolfpack bullpen all season. The sophomore was second on the team in appearances (24) and fashioned a 7-3 record, with a 2.08 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .201 against the right-handed fireballer. He’s allowed just 12 earned runs over 52 innings, with 54 strikeouts.
Chance Shepard has worked himself into time at catcher after hitting three home runs in as many games during N.C. State’s late season push. He’s hit five home runs on the year, with 20 runs batted in 83 at-bats.
Shane Shepard has 49 at-bats, 11 RBIs and one home run as a freshman.
Steven Linkous, junior, OF, UNCW, North Brunswick
After garnering First-Team All-CAA accolades, Linkous set the table atop the UNCW lineup during the Seahawks run to the conference championship.
Linkous is fourth on the team in hitting with a .327 average. The junior, who made the move from infield to outfield this season, scored a career-high 60 runs as the leadoff hitter. He’s played in all 55 games for the Seahawks and led the Colonial Athletic Association with 30 stolen bases.
Trevor Kelley, senior, RHP, North Carolina, Ashley
UNC was one of the last four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, but senior sidewinder Trevor Kelley wrapped up his college career as one of the nation’s most efficient relief pitchers.
It was the first time since 2001 the Tar Heels did not qualify for the national tournament.
Kelley led the nation in appearances out of the Carolina bullpen during his senior campaign and served as the go-to guy for the Tar Heels all season.
In 41 appearances this spring, Kelley had a 5-3 record with five saves and a 2.55 ERA. Opposing hitters were batting just .234 against the righty from Ashley. He recorded 71 strikeouts, while allowing 20 walks and 22 earned runs.
Bryan Sammons, sophomore, LHP, Western Carolina, Hoggard
Sophomore starter Bryan Sammons struck out a career-high 10 in seventh-seeded Western Carolina’s loss in the SoCon Tournament to No. 2 Samford. The lefty from Hoggard allowed five runs on one hit, with eight walks over five innings of work in his final outing of the year.
For the season, Sammons had a 4-5 record with a 5.64 ERA. In 75 innings pitched, he recorded 75 strikeouts, while allowing 47 earned runs.
Pete Wildeboer, sophomore, Methodist, Laney
Methodist qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament, but the Monarchs were knocked out of regional competition with a season-ending setback to Furman.
Methodist ended the year with a final record of 32-10 that saw the team win the USA South Conference championship.
On top of earning accolades for his work in the classroom, Wildeboer had a standout season for the Monarchs. The sophomore started in 41 of 42 games played and hit .303. In 142 at-bats, the former Laney standout finished with seven doubles, two triples, 20 runs batted in and 33 runs scored.
Sam Foy, junior, 2B, Davidson, New Hanover
The Davidson baseball team’s first Atlantic 10 Tournament rally fell short to the No. 2-seeded Rhode Island Rams 4-3 Saturday afternoon at Barcroft Park.
The Wildcats, who eliminated top-seeded Saint Louis and No. 6-seed George Washington on Friday, finished their 2015 season with a 28-22 overall record – their second straight season with at least 28 victories.
Foy was an instrumental part of Davidson’s success this season and named Second-Team All-Conference. As a junior, the New Hanover High School alum started in all 50 games and hit a career-best .322. In 211 at-bats, Foy smacked 12 doubles, launched two home runs, drove in 33, and scored 30 runs.
The rising senior is back home this summer and will be playing for the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League.
Jonathan Kelley, RHP, VMI, Ashley
The eighth-seeded The Citadel Bulldogs scored eight runs over their final three at-bats to overcome a three-run deficit and went on to defeat the fourth-seeded VMI Keydets, 10-5, in game 11 of the 2015 SoCon Baseball Championship in Charleston, South Carolina. The loss ended the season for VMI (21-30), a season that included the Keydets’ first postseason victory since 2010.
Kelley made three starts and 18 appearances this spring. He logged 24.1 innings and finished the year with a 9.99 earned run average.
Colin Thacker, sophomore, C, OF, Gardner Webb, New Hanover
Scott Johnson, senior, INF, Gardner Webb
Gardner Webb closed the year with a 22-31 record as Thacker and Johnson played key roles on the team this season.
Thacker, who is playing his summer ball for the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League, has the team’s second leading hitter with a .285 batting average. He played in 50 games as a sophomore and had 165 at-bats. Thacker led the team in runs batted in with 26.
Johnson closed his college career with a .989 fielding percentage.
Eric Eason, sophomore, UNC-Charlotte, Ashley
Eason hit .213 as a sophomore in 80 at-bats for the 49ers.
Coley Thompkins, P, Campbell, Hoggard
The Fighting Camels ends their season with a 32-25 record and were eliminated in the Big South Tournament.
Thompkins led the team in appearances (25) and allowed 17 earned runs in 43 innings pitched.
Joe Catenacci is a sports writer at Port City Daily and host of The Sports Connection on 103.7 FM at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Mondays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.