*I just submitted one...can you please delete the "Btw..." part and replace with: I bet you think HIPAA is an animal....

Leading the Vikings ship


Conley's head baseball coach Jason Mills claps for his players during their game against J.H. Rose High School Thursday, March 16, 2017.


By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

D.H. Conley head baseball coach Jason Mills has long been a familiar sight along base paths in Greenville, whether it be at Hollywood Crossroads or another ball park in eastern North Carolina. 

Mills took over the Vikings team in 1999 after leading the West Craven baseball team since 1993.

“Conley had always been a great baseball program under Allen Wilson. He did a great job,” Mills said. “He decided to resign, and it was about the first of August. I was still at West Craven with Peanut Langston, and I saw they had a science (teaching) opening and that was it. I probably by far wasn’t even close to the most qualified for that position.”

In the early 2000s, the Vikings’ top rival, J.H. Rose, was the dominant force not only Pitt County but in the state. Mills inherited a Conley team looking to climb the ladder and compete with the Rampants. 

“Those first years were tough,” Mills said. “Rose was going through about four state titles in a five- or six-year span. They were really good. It was tough on us, but we started to break through a little bit. It wasn’t until about 2004 or 2005, with Aubrey Eason and Alex White, that we broke through. That group kind of set our program on the right direction.”

In 2005, Mills’ DHC squad won its first state title under his leadership.

“It came from not making the playoffs the previous year and winning our conference tournament,” Mills said. “We went through and won the state championship that way when Rose was a two-time defending champion. They were really good. We won that and then dropped down to 3-A and won that the next year.”

Upon his arrival, Mills joined one of the top rivalries in the state between DHC and Rose, having to face off against legendary coach Ronald Vincent.

“We had scrimmaged against Rose when I was at West Craven a couple times,” Mills said. “(Vincent’s) programs have always been the benchmark for the state. When I first got here, I never said I wanted to be better than him. Maybe one day I’ll be close, but I’ll never surpass coach Vincent. That’s the great thing about this rivalry, there’s never any ill will from either side. I always respected coach Vincent, and we’re all friends and love to play against one another. That’s what makes the rivalry so fun.”

Since the ‘05 title, Conley has reached five East Regional finals, made three straight state title appearances and won two titles. This season’s team also reached the East finals but fell to defending state champion New Hanover following a 2-1, walk-off loss in eight innings on May 18. 

This year’s team had talent, including Cam Jackson, Robbie O’Neal, Jake Lysaght, Matthew Matthijs and Shea Ward. After all this season’s team accomplished, Mills still claims one team in particular is the best he’s ever coached.

“The ‘05 team probably was the best, most talented team I’ve had,” Mills said. “When Alex White misses almost two months of season and we don’t miss a beat all year. Aubrey Eason and Tanner Jones were amazing, Mike Taylor, who’s one of my coaches now, was amazing as well.”

Mills has coached some of the most familiar names to have come through Greenville, including Davis Kirkpatrick, Spencer Brickhouse, Bryant Packard and Phillip Sanderson among many others. Seeing his former players succeed at the next level is what Mills is most proud of.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Mills said. “To see them finally make that decision that they’re finally going on to further education, and using baseball to get there, it makes me really happy. We’re fortunate to have some really talented kids who love baseball, and it makes our jobs so much easier.”

The Vikings graduate 13 seniors, leaving returning players like Skyler Cross, Noah Link, Jack Carlyle and Matthijs to step into the spotlight.

“We’re going to be centered around our pitching for the next couple years,” Mills said. “Matthew Matthijs, Eason Warren and Evan McLean are going to be three names you hear a lot of from us.  Position-wise, other than Noah, Jack and Skyler, we’re unsure of who’s going to be where next year. We’re going to go into the fall camp and kind of see where we’re at. We’re probably going to go with some of the older guys, Hutch Manning, Panda Askew, Charlie Dees, some of the guys who are going to be seniors.”

Mills added that he expects next year’s squad to be similar to Rose’s team this past season, one that enters the season unsure of who will take control but eventually sees younger players break through and play a major role in the team’s season.

When all is said and done, Mills hopes to be remembered not by his wins and losses, but the personal connections he’s made.

“I hope the community looks at me more so for the relationships I’ve created with these kids,” he said. “It’s more about that than it is about wins and losses, and that’s something I don’t think I would have said when I was younger. I’ve learned that over time from guys like RV and my mentor, Peanut Langston, who taught me more about the game than anybody else. It’s about the relationships with these kids and not about wins and losses. Those are extra. I see how the Rose kids look at Ronald Vincent with such admiration and love. That’s something I’d love to have. I’ll never reach him, but I plan on coaching baseball until they tell me I can’t do it anymore.”

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

High Schools

June 19, 2019

FARMVILLE -- It was a time of celebration at Farmville Central on Tuesday night, as team members from this year's Jaguars' 2-A state champion boys' basketball team received their state championship rings.

FC defeated Forest Hills, 86-71, on March 16 to claim its second title in four seasons.



June 17, 2019

Post 39 slugger Caleb Morris' two homeruns, and team high five RBIs, led his team to victory in the final game of the Pitt County American Legion Showcase Sunday night. Post 39 defeated Pleasure Island Post 129, 10-1.

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June 16, 2019

Saturday night saw another edition of one of the top American Legion battles in Eastern North Carolina, as Post 39 hosted Wayne Post 11 in a conference makeup game. Post 11 walked away victorious, 9-4.

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June 16, 2019

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June 16, 2019

The following players were selected to The Daily Reflector’s All-Area baseball team. 


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June 16, 2019

Grant Charles Jarman wrapped up an outstanding high school athletic career this season. After four years of football and baseball Jarman walks away with one final award, The Daily Reflector’s All-Area Batter of the Year. 

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June 16, 2019

It was yet another successful season for the D.H. Conley baseball team, led by longtime coach Jason Mills.

Mills led DHC to a 26-5 overall record, going 11-1 in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. The Vikings season culminated in a trip to the 3-A East Regional Finals, where it lost to…


June 14, 2019

Athletes from three local schools learned if they received the honor of being named to their sports All-Conference list in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. Take a look at who made the cut. 


11 players received all conference honors, with D.H. Conley leading the way with…


June 13, 2019

Another batch of local high school athletes signed letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level.

Chargers duo inks to Louisburg College

After rounding out their careers with their best statistical seasons, Ayden-Grifton baseball players Blake McLawhorn and…

060719-A-G Signing

June 13, 2019

After recently seeing his D.H. Conley athletic career come to a close Shea Ward continues to improve his game on the diamond. The Pitt Community College commit is playing with the Post 39 Legion team this summer before joining the Bulldogs. Preps beat writer Jake Keator spoke with Ward about his…

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