WENTWOTH — Any time high school student-athletes get an opportunity to play at the collegiate level, it’s a pretty big deal for not only the players, but for family, friends and coaches as well.
For four Rockingham County student-athletes last week, there was most certainly no “I” in team.
Rockingham County seniors Victoria Cook, Riley Hamilton, Makayla Fincanon and Coby Ingle had a little different approach to their signing day. Instead of soaking up the limelight for themselves, they decided to share their shining moment together — family style.
All signed their national letters of intent at a ceremony in the lobby of Rockingham County High School last week to play sports in college following their high school graduation next spring.
Ingle inks with Wolfpack
It’s been four years in the making for Ingle to finally make it official, but now his college destination is secure. NC State was so impressed with the Cougars right-handed pitching ace and his potential for greatness, that they offered him a full scholarship during his freshman season of high school.
Ingle said the fact the Wolfpack showed so much confidence in him early-on, played a role in his decision on where to take his game after high school. He liked the family vibe between players and coaches with the NC State program.
“It’s a huge thing to have all of these people come out and show their support. Everything is a stepping stone in life and it’s a big deal to actually come out here and sign with NC State. I had a really good connection from the first time we met up until when I committed. Those coaches are going to be like parents for the next four years, so we are excited to make it official,” Ingle said.
The three-time North Carolina All-State selection, as well as three-time Mid-State 3A All Conference award winner, says although he is excited for what the future holds in Raleigh, he still has plenty he and the Cougars would like to accomplish when his senior season begins in early 2020.
Ingle’s junior campaign numbers will be hard to match. On the mound he was 8-1 as a starter and in 62.1 innings pitched, he struck out 105 batters in the process of logging a 0.79 ERA. When he wasn’t pitching, Ingle was nearly perfect as well as is evident with a fielding percentage of .872.
On offense, Ingle hit .349 and had 29 hits while driving in 15 RBIs. He also, showed power with three homers in 25 games played.
He led the charge as the 2019 Cougars finished tied for first with Northern Guilford, both closing out Mid-State 3A Conference play with 12-2 records and sharing the regular season title.
Rockingham head baseball coach George Barber said when Ingle is on the mound, his players feel like they are virtually unbeatable, and that is saying a lot in the tough Mid-State 3A Conference.
“When he is really locked in, sometimes it’s fun just to sit back and watch. He’s got great command. He’s a hard worker and we are looking forward to what’s to come in the future,” Barber said following a game last season.
Cook and Hamilton made for dynamic golfing duo
As great as signing day was, it marked the end of an era at Rockingham County High School when Cook and Hamilton signed on the dotted line to take their golf game to UNC Greensboro and East Carolina University respectively.
Neither will ever swing a club for the Lady Cougars again, but what they accomplished over the course of their careers will never be forgotten.
Cook, a four-year varsity starter for Rockingham, was a member of the three-consecutive 3A NCHSAA state championship teams from 2016 to 2018.
Hamilton turned out to be a god-send, transferring to RCHS from Carlyle in 2017 after winning an individual state championship competing against the men. She turned into a true team leader and was the perfect addition to an already loaded roster. She and Cook would lead the way to back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018, and then led the charge again for a team that made it to the championship round again in 2019 finishing in second place.
“Riley and Victoria finished tied for fifth and seventh respectively, and I am really proud of them for contributions to our golf program and wish them luck next year at ECU and UNCG. I know they will work hard in preparation for next year in hopes of helping their colleges next year. Winning conference and regional’s and finishing second in the state is a good year for any team. I’m proud of the girls,” said Rockingham head golf coach Mike Williams.
Ferrum College secures Fincanon’s multi-set tool box
Fincanon secured her future as well, inking with Ferrum College after being recruited by some of the top college programs in the region over the course of the last several years.
She currently plays with the NC Rockers 18 and under team for head coach Derek Murphy, who is also the head coach for Southwest Guilford High School.
Prior to that, Fincanon played her freshman and sophomore seasons in high school for Rockingham County, but ultimately, the travel ball league, and the individual instruction offered by the Rockers, turned out to be a better fit for a player that was already drawing recruiting interest as a freshman.
The Rockers, a national showcase team, play from June through November, so not only does she get more games in during as compared to a typical high school season, but she is able to take advantage of the off-season program which focuses on individualized coaching.
Fincanon’s versatility should give her many options as far as playing position at Ferrum. In her armature career she pitched, played third base and also saw time in the outfield.
In 2019, Fincanon hit .431, had six home runs and 46 RBIs for the Rockers. In addition, once she got on base, which was most of the time, she made the most of it as was evident with her 46 stolen bases.
“She’s a very smart player and knows the game well. She’s probably one of the best hitters I have ever had on my team. Talent-wise, she can play anywhere on the field. Middle infield, pitching and she’s got great range on her laterals, so she brings a lot to the field. She’s got great mobility and can get to balls on the field, so she knows how to play the game,” Murphy said.