ALL-AREA: Jason Mills, D.H. Conley
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, 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 reigning state champion New Hanover. Despite the loss, Conley once again made a statement in Pitt County, making the deepest run of any area team. Mills' leadership earned him The Daily Reflector's Coach of the Year honor.
Conley will lose 13 seniors from the roster to graduation, leaving a new set of upperclassmen to take control of the team. While the rosters change each year, the expectations remain the same.
"We have a pretty solid core coming back," Mills said. "Our outfield play should be good, and our pitching should be very good and much improved. We have some holes to fill, especially behind the plate, losing Robbie O'Neal and Josh McCarter really hurts us. Those are going to be big shoes to fill, but if we can find an everyday catcher we'll be okay."
Once the teams return in the fall, Mills will begin to evaluate his players and see who will step up and fill the holes.
"It (the lineup) will change from time to time throughout the season," Mills said. "We had guys who started the first six games who didn't start the last 20. It will change throughout the year. It's a time for guys to compete, and that's a good thing."
Mills used his experienced roster to his advantage, capitalizing on his seniors in a "younger league" last season. Next season the tables will change, and it will be the league that holds more experience than the Conley roster.
"We've got four guys returning who started everyday this year," Mills said. "We're going to be relying on them as we fill in the pieces."
Contact Jake Keator at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.