With the creation of an all-Cabarrus County conference - the South Piedmont 3A - two years ago, local rivalries intensified. The result was one of most competitive baseball conferences in the state.
While no one has dominated the SPC, Northwest Cabarrus has spent the most time on top, winning both SPC regular season titles, sharing with co-champs Mount Pleasant in 2010 while taking the 2010 SPC tournament title.
The Trojans (18-8, 12-2) were on top of the league standings again this season, but the tournament quickly proved just how deep the SPC is when No. 3 seed Mount Pleasant ran the table, beating Central Cabarrus (No. 6), Hickory Ridge (No. 2) and Jay M. Robinson (No. 4) to claim the title. Northwest Cabarrus lost to the Bulldogs in the tournament semifinal.
The 3A state playoffs were a different story, as the Trojans and Bulldogs were the only two conference teams to make it out of the first round. Mount Pleasant, Hickory Ridge and Cox Mill also made the playoffs.
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On the private school side, First Assembly had a solid season, going 12-9 overall and advancing to the second round of the NCISAA 2A playoffs.
Cannon (4-17) struggled to get in the win column for most of the season but made big strides in becoming more competitive in one of the best private-school leagues in the state, the Charlotte Independent School Athletic Association.
Cabarrus News player of the year: Grayson Atwood, Mount Pleasant
Grayson Atwood had one of the greatest starts to a high school career, belting a home run in his debut for the Mount Pleasant varsity team as a freshman.
Four years later, Atwood is among the best players in the state, as the North Carolina signee was ranked 13th in North Carolina by Impact Baseball.
Atwood, who hit more than .400 the last two seasons, also excelled on the mound this season, going 8-2, including a dramatic complete-game three-hit victory against Jay M. Robinson at the SPC tournament championship.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Atwood was key for a Tiger team that won nine of its final 10 games, including the SPC tournament title and three games in three days at the Intimidator Classic against state powers East Rowan, South Rowan and West Rowan.
Atwood looks to continue his ascent in the baseball world as a Tar Heel next season.
Cabarrus News pitcher of the year: Brody Koerner, Jay M. Robinson
Brody Koerner doesn't like to lose. For the last two years, he hasn't done a lot of that, becoming one of the top pitchers in the SPC and the state.
Koerner, a rising senior, was 6-3 on the mound for Jay M. Robinson while recording 108 strikeouts and a 1.51 ERA. His performance earned him SPC Pitcher of the Year honors.
Koerner was a big part of why the Bulldogs finished fourth in the conference and were SPC tournament runner-ups.
The Clemson commit has a 90-plus mph fastball with a devastating array of breaking pitches, including a curveball and change-up.
With another season at Robinson, Koerner will be able to show how good he can be and how far he can take the Bulldogs.
Cabarrus News coach of the year: Joe Hubbard, Northwest Cabarrus
Joe Hubbard knows he plays in one of the best conferences in the state, but instead of using it as an excuse to be less than the best, the Trojans have risen to the top of the league standings in only two years in the conference.
The Trojans have won the regular season SPC crown in both 2010 and 2011, going 39-18 (21-5 in SPC). Despite coming up short in the conference tournament, the Trojans got to the second round of the 3A playoffs, where they lost to Parkwood.
All-Cabarrus News baseball team
Brody Koerner, Jay M. Robinson: Clemson commit earned SPC Pitcher of the Year honors after leading his Bulldogs with his strong arm.
Rob Bain, Northwest Cabarrus: Davidson College-bound lefty was one of the most crafty pitchers in the conference.
Blake Sides, Hickory Ridge: One of most improved players in SPC; junior went 7-2 on the mound with 3.02 ERA.
Stephen Gilmore, First Assembly: Gardner-Webb commit had dominant stuff with 107 strikeouts and 1.72 ERA.
Travis Watkins, Cox Mill: Leader of young Chargers hit .408 with two homers and 21 RBIs.
Ryan Yoder, Central Cabarrus: Senior had big-time arm to go with power at plate, hitting five home runs.
Corey Seager, Northwest Cabarrus: South Carolina commit following in the elite footsteps of older brothers, Justin and Kyle.
Tanner Bigham, Northwest Cabarrus: Committed to North Carolina as sophomore and lived up to billing, hitting .440 this season.
Grayson Atwood, Mount Pleasant: UNC signee equally talented at third base and on the plate.
Brandon Burris, Mount Pleasant: Appalachian State signee was key for talented Tiger offense and at shortstop.
Dillon Ashburn, Jay M. Robinson: Senior first-baseman led Bulldogs, batting .450 on the season.
Zach Andrews, Hickory Ridge: Senior, who hit .359 with 24 RBIs, will continue career at Brunswick Community College.
A.J. James, Mount Pleasant: Appalachian State signee blossomed in senior season with .450 average, four home runs and 33 RBIs.
Ryan Burris, Concord: Senior was one of the best hitters and pitcher on an improved Spider team.
Austin Fox, Cox Mill: Only freshman to make all-SPC team had 43 hits in 86 at bats.
Brandon Porter, Central Cabarrus: Senior was streaky at times, but when he was on he was one of best hitters in SPC.
Connor Lippincott, Cannon: Cougar junior catcher was also team's best hitter.
Weston Smith, Northwest Cabarrus: Junior showed a lot of promise at the plate this season for Trojans.