All-area: Northern’s Purnell earns top baseball honors
Barry Purnell’s Northern Vance career was solid from start to finish. He made an impact immediately as a rookie, heading the freshman class that would ultimately lead the Vikings back to the state playoffs in 2012 after a 10-year postseason drought.
Purnell could play anywhere in the infield and had a good arm on the pitcher’s mound, but the steady senior made his name this season at shortstop.
Leading the Vikes in multiple offensive categories, Purnell is the all-area baseball Player of the Year.
Purnell’s teammate, Nate Arrington, is the all-area Pitcher of the Year.
The all-area coaching honors this year go to Kerr-Vance’s Todd Wilkerson, who led a greenhorn group of Spartans into the postseason for a consecutive season.
Purnell led the Vikings in steals (14), on-base percentage (.509) and team hits, batting .386 to accompany 14 RBI and a pair of home runs. His coach, Benji Nelson, called him the strongest defensive player on the team and awarded his senior the team MVP honors.
Zach Pegram and Trey Stainback join Purnell and Arrington on the first team. Pegram, a third baseman and pitcher, led the Vikings with 16 RBI and batted .368. Stainback threw out more than 50 percent of baserunners from his catcher position while batting .333 and finishing behind Purnell in on-base percentage.
Arrington is the area’s Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. Faced with a demanding 3-A Carolina Conference schedule, the junior right-hander finished 5-6 on the season with an 3.25 ERA and 81 strikeouts.
Webb is represented on the first team by cousins David Watson and Andrew Watson. The Watson duo is as versatile and hard-nosed as they come. Both players pitch and catch and serve as two of the team’s most consistent hitters.
Wake Tech-bound Wyatt Evans and freshman teammate Daniel Wilkerson are KVA’s first-team selections. Evans played shortstop and pitched, batting .481 on the season. Wilkerson, an infielder, also pitched, sporting a 2.07 ERA. He batted .419, finishing with eight RBI.
Wilkerson was one of four Spartan freshmen regulars. His father, Todd, faced a major rebuilding project when he took over the program in 2012, but KVA has qualified for the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association 2-A state tourney in consecutive seasons.
The Spartans finished fourth in a strong Eastern Plains Independent Conference that featured 2-A state runner-up Rocky Mount Academy, 2-A state semifinalist Faith Christian and Parrott Academy of 3-A.
Warren County sophomore shortstop Tyler Thompson rounds out the first-team selections. He led the Eagles with a .444 batting average to go along with 10 RBI. He also finished with a 3-0 pitching record.
Travon Scott represents Northern on the all-area second team along with Southern Vance’s Dustin Brummitt and Montavis Gray. Webb has three (Taylor Williams, Chad Frazier, Matt Hobgood) on the second team while KVA has one, freshman catcher Lane Humphries. Hayden Sullivan and Pete Johnson complete the second-team selections.
Barry Purnell (Northern), Zach Pegram (Northern), Trey Stainback (Northern), Nate Arrington (Northern), David Watson (Webb), Andrew Watson (Webb), Wyatt Evans (KVA), Daniel Wilkerson (KVA), Tyler Thompson (Warren County)
Travon Scott (Northern), Dustin Brummitt (Southern), Montavis Gray (Southern), Taylor Williams (Webb), Chad Frazier (Webb), Matt Hobgood (Webb), Lane Humphries (KVA), Hayden Sullivan (Warren County), Pete Johnson (Warren County)
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