Saluting Vets, Eagle’s Perfection - TribPapers

Saluting Vets, Eagle’s Perfection

East Henderson’s 6-6 ace Reece Alverson follows through on a pitch. He recently threw a perfect game. Devin Walker (15) is playing third base. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

East Flat Rock – Reece Alverson threw a perfect game, as East Henderson Eagle baseball’s crown jewel performance so far in this season.

Lanky Alverson struck out 12 Panthers as East Henderson (5-6; 1-3 M7) shut out Mountain Seven Conference foe Franklin (5-3; 2-2) by 7-0 on March 21. The 6-foot-6 inch senior pitched a full seven-inning perfect game. He yielded no base runners — with no walks or hit batters. No Panther reached base on an error.

Eagle catcher Evans Stokes tags out West leadoff hitter Jackson Lyda at home plate. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Eagle catcher Evans Stokes tags out West leadoff hitter Jackson Lyda at home plate. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

“It felt really good,” Alverson said of securing the perfect game. “I’m happy with our team performance. Sure, there were 12 strikeouts. But we had to make plenty of other outs.” Mason Smith‘s sliding catch in center field preserved the perfect game.

Alverson said he did not necessarily feel extra sharp or crafty on that day. “I just went out there and threw what I usually do.” He pitched as many off-speed pitches as fastballs. “We were mixing them up.”

His perfect game lowered his earned run average to  0.64.

‘Wise Guy’

Alverson has a baseball scholarship to play for Virginia-Wise, making him a true “Wise guy.”

The lanky 6-foot-6 Eagle was the basketball center, when East upset local rival West Henderson in the M7 tournament for another athletic highlight of 2022-23.

The long-armed hurler mixes arm levels as a baseball pitcher. This produces a deceptive delivery, making it difficult for batters to perceive a pitch when it is first unleashed, Falcon catcher Amani Perin noted.

Alverson said he changes angles “based on how I feel that day. Sometimes, one arm angle feels better than another one.”

Alverson kept West off the scoreboard by scattering hits. His defense kept the game scoreless in the third inning, by throwing out a runner at home on a fielder’s choice. Alverson struck out six batters in the first four innings, trailing by merely 1-0.

“He is a good pitcher and competes,” Falcon star Truitt Manuel said. “But we got the bats going” in the fifth inning.

Daniel Corhn, a 2008 West grad, has managed East since 2017. East was second in the league to Pisgah at 7-3 in 2020. Corhn preaches “continued improvement.” As a Falcon ballplayer, he developed fundamental skills and camaraderie. His Eagles are similarly “always supporting and encouraging each other.”

Eagle baseball seniors are Alverson, Isaac Burleson, Nolan Edge, Parker Garrett, Jordan Holbert, Evan Stokes, and Devin Walker. Burleson is a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball.

Vets, Rivals, Softball

East played West Henderson twice last week. The first game, at East, was declared a Military Appreciation Day. Corhn had the idea, and coordinated it with West head coach Jackie Corn, Jr. Both teams wore special star-adorned uniforms in their main colors — Eagle green and Falcon blue. Three local veterans threw out ceremonial first pitches.

Several players told the Tribune they eagerly honor military vets for their sacrifices — especially in combat, but also in service on call to get into harm’s way. “Without our brave men and women fighting for our country, we would not be able to play this great game of baseball,” West Coach Corn said.

Three of Henderson County’s four public high schools are in the M7. Coach Justin King’s North Henderson Knights (4-7) host the Eagles on April 19, and play at East on April 21.

West (9-3 overall; 4-0 M7) leads the league. NHHS and Smoky Mountain are 2-2, Tuscola and Franklin are both 1-1 after FHS beat THS on Friday.

Hendersonville (6-4) hosts West on April 12. HHS is 2-2 in the Mountain Foothills Conference. Senior Bearcat pitcher Skylar Albright (3-0, 0.40 ERA; .281 AVG.) earns the nicknames “All is Bright” and “Sky is the Limit.

Veteran head coach Mark Cook’s leading hitters are Brody Parris (.462, 11 runs, 8 RBI), Ethan Rector (.387), catcher J.T. Smith (.368), Bryce Barnwell (.308), and Sam Wolfe (.286) who also pitches.

Two HHS seniors are best known for other sports. Reece Wilson, the big defensive lineman, plays first base. Pitcher-OF Noah Pavão is the star 6-5 soccer goalie. Pavão recently signed to go to private soccer power Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, which won a USCAA Division II national title two seasons ago.

In softball, West (7-2; 3-1 M7) is doing best, ahead of North (4-5; 2-3) and East (1-8; 0-5). West was 9-3 in M7 contests a season ago, and 18-4 overall. HHS is 3-6 and 0-4 in MFC play.