Sean Pope is used to being a major factor on nearly every play in a baseball game.
For the last four years, Pope starred on the mound, in the field and at the plate for North Mecklenburg High School and the Dirtbags' (all-star baseball team) in more than 100 games in a typical year.
This season, Pope has done a lot more watching than playing in his freshman season as he transitions from being a standout high school player to a rookie pitcher on the Charlotte 49ers' baseball team. Pope has made appearances in only three of the 49ers' 35 games, all three as the starting pitcher, including twice against USC Upstate and last week against N.C. Central.
"A lot has changed for me, but I've actually liked it," said Pope. "I've never gotten to sit and watch the game like this. I've had time to pick up a lot of little things, learn the system and learn how to play the right way."
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While Pope has learned mostly watching from the sidelines, the freshman has gone 2-0 in his three starts, including a win last Wednesday night in his team's 13-1 victory over Central's Eagles.
Pope, who has six strikeouts in 11 innings of work this season, is part of one of the better 49ers' teams in the last decade. Charlotte is 27-8 overall, including 10-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, good for first place in the conference. The team has won six games in a row, including a school-record 17 in a row at home.
"I am really happy to be part of a winning team, and so far, it's been a great year," Pope said. "I've just got to be ready to do my part, and we need to keep this thing rolling."
Pope isn't the only local high school player at Charlotte.Freshmen Shane Basen (Marvin Ridge), Wes Hatley (South Stanley), Jim Lyerly (Piedmont), Corey Roberts (Olympic) and Corbin Shive (East Rowan) have all joined together at Charlotte. Former North Meck teammate sophomore Shane Brown as well as senior Zack Dunn (Hickory Grove), junior sophomore Tyler Pilkington (Weddington), redshirt freshman Justin Roland (East Rowan), Corey Shaylor (Independence) and junior Andrew Smith (Butler) and are also familiar faces to Pope as he eases into college..
"Getting great local players has always been one of our major focuses since I've been at Charlotte," said Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs, who is in his 18th seasons with the 49ers. "We think Sean has a chance to be a great player for us. Right now, we are just trying to develop him the right way."
For now, Pope is content to do his part, no matter how big or small, with the hope that bigger and better things are to come..
"Right now, I am happy contributing what I can to a winning team," Pope said. "We are focused on trying to win the conference, getting into the postseason, and take our chances from there."