With the college baseball season winding down, summer leagues across the country will be starting to ramp up over the next few weeks and the Wilmington Sharks have been hard at work piecing together their roster for the upcoming season.
A few local standouts are scheduled to return home for the next few months after signing with the club for the summer. Ward Coleman (Davidson/New Hanover) and Mason Berne (Spartanburg Methodist/Topsail) are expected to join the Sharks, while other collegiate players from the area are heading elsewhere to get in their reps during the off season.
While Berne awaits his fate as a potential choice in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft, Coleman will be sporting the blue and white uniform for the Sharks. He saw limited action during his freshman year at Davidson, but made the most of his opportunities at the plate, going 10-for-19 this spring.
“I’m very excited to get the opportunity to play for the Sharks,” said Coleman. “The organization has set a standard of high level baseball year after year. I remember going to games as a kid and used to dream about having the chance to put a Sharks jersey on.”
The New Hanover alum will be the second Wildcat and Davidson College athlete to play for the local summer collegiate club after Sam Foy returned home to compete for the Sharks during his time in college. Foy, the son of New Hanover baseball coach Richard Foy, recently graduated from Davidson.
“I’ve heard great stories from Sam about the Sharks,” Coleman added. “I look forward to meeting the players and coaches. It will be a fun season and I plan to get as much out of it as I can.”
Coleman will also be returning to his former ball park at Legion Stadium after playing his home games there during his time at New Hanover and for Wilmington Post 10.
“Being back at Legion will be exciting,” Coleman said. “I remember playing my last Post 10 game and hoping that one day I would be back on Legion in a Sharks uniform. The field is special to me and I know what the atmosphere is like at the Sharks games. The organization does an incredible job bringing fans and making the games fun for both players and spectators.”
Berne was named National Junior College Athletic Association Region 10 Player of the Year after a breakout sophomore season for Spartanburg Methodist. The right-handed power hitter was among the nation’s leaders in home runs. He’s been in talks with several Major League Baseball organizations and continues to figure out if he’s selected, whether to sign a professional contract or head to UNCW this fall. Berne committed to the Seahawks and would play for the Wilmington Sharks if his draft prospects don’t pan out.
Former Topsail standout and current UNCW freshman Clark Cota was also scheduled to join the Wilmington Sharks’ club, but as the right-handed hurler continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, it looks like Cota will stick with his rehabilitation this summer before getting back on the diamond. He plans to partake in daily workouts with the Sharks, but likely won’t see time on the field.
Cota has earned a few at-bats this spring for the Seahawks, while his progress has moved along according to schedule and hopes to be back on the mound at some point this fall. A recent MRI came back with good news as the Topsail alum now awaits word from the renowned Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery on Cota last summer.
Other local ballplayers competing in leagues this summer
Sam Luchansky, Topsail/Belmont Abbey: Luchansky will make a couple of trips to Wilmington this summer as he competes for the Petersburg Generals within the Coastal Plain League.
Collin Thacker, New Hanover/Gardner Webb: Thacker will be playing for the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League for about a month this summer before heading back to Gardner Webb to take a summer class, while continuing to work out and condition for the 2017 season.
Danny Wilson, Topsail/UNC-Asheville: Wilson is headed to the New England Collegiate Baseball League to compete for the Sanford Mainers in Sanford, Maine.
Trader Flora, Topsail/Appalachian State: Flora will spend some of his summer on the Grand Strand playing for the Palmetto Generals of the Beach Collegiate Baseball League in Myrtle Beach.
Bryan Sammons, Hoggard/Western Carolina: Sammons has signed a temporary contract to pitch in the prestigious Cape Cod League, where the lefty will play for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox based in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.