2021 Summer Ball Recap

School is back in session, the Niners are back on the field for fall workouts, and that means that the summer is officially over. What a summer it was for several 49ers competing in collegiate summer leagues across the country! 49er players combined for 6 All-League players, 2 batting titles, and 1 Championship this summer!

To recap the summer, we will start off by taking a look at the Niners that were representing up in the Cape Cod League. Charlotte had four players that represented the #9ATC on the Cape at various times throughout the summer, which is the most we’ve had in recent memory. Catcher Aaron McKeithan started out the summer playing with the Harwich Mariners before getting drafted and signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. McKeithan had a dinger in his eight games for Harwich before getting drafted.

LHP Spencer Giesting teamed with McKeithan to form what we will guess is the first 49er battery to play together in the Cape. Giesting made three starts and three relief appearances this summer for the Mariners, with his best outing being a 4.2 inning relief appearance vs Falmouth. He came in in the 3rd inning and held Falmouth scoreless, striking out 6 to pick up the Win.

Outfielder Jake Cunningham played four games for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, before a hand injury cut his summer short. He had four hits in four games, including a double to start the summer.

Incoming 49er RHP Anthony Casciola made the trip up to the Cape late in the summer and made two relief appearances for Hyannis. He pitched 2.2 innings and ended his Cape season with a 0.00 ERA and did not allow a hit. Prior to the Cape, Casciola had a successful summer down in Florida pitching in the Collegiate League of The Palm Beaches for the Palm Beach Snow Birds. He was named CLPB All League and participated in the All Star game after posting a 0.61 ERA in 10 appearances. Great summer for the transfer from Bucknell, travelling up and down the east coast.

It was a big summer for several 49ers competing in the historic Coastal Plains League. Will Butcher spent his summer crushing baseballs for the Forest City Owls (including this 456′ shot). Butcher finished the season 8th in the league with a .346 batting average, and earned First Team All-CPL honors.

Butcher’s teammate in Forest City, incoming outfielder Cam Fisher, won the CPL Batting Title this summer with a .384 batting average. Fisher also stole 11 bases and scored 26 Runs for the Owls to earn First Team All-CPL honors. With all this going on in Forest City, we had to make the trip to McNair Field this summer.

Incoming 49er LHP Will Lancaster, a transfer from USC-Upstate, had a big summer for the High Point – Thomasville HiToms. The lefty was among the league leaders in several pitching categories including ERA (2.18), Wins (5), and Ks (54) leading to him earning First Team All-CPL honors.

Jack Dragum returned to his home state of Virginia to once again spend the summer with the Penninsula Pilots. Dragum drove in 23 runs and scored 22 for the Pilots while playing 2B and SS. He also jumped back on the mound this summer and made two appearances. Dragum struck out 6 of the 7 batters he faced in those two appearances.

Outfielder Hunter Baker spent part of the summer playing for the Asheboro Copperheads. He had a HR and two SBs in 11 games this summer.

Rising sophomore Nate Furman put up some video game numbers for the Winchester Royals in the Valley Baseball League this summer. Big Furm batted .424 for the summer, including a .529 average over 4 Playoff games. Furman won the league batting title with a .400 regular season average, led the league with 31 Walks, and also led the league with 25 SBs. He finished 2nd in the league in Runs scored with 38. He also had the highest On-Base Percentage in VBL History at .570! Furman earned a spot in the VBL All-Star Game at JMU mid summer and earned 1st Team VBL honors after the season. These kind of numbers prompted a visit from DNR reps as well.

With the Southern Collegiate Baseball League being so close, we were able to check in on several of the Niners playing there this summer. Two incoming freshmen, catcher Huck Wathan and infielder Hayden Brandon played with the Carolina Vipers this summer, coached by 49ers Aaron Bray and BJ Hagan. Brandon batted .204 in 16 games this summer while playing in both the infield and outfield. Wathan batted .328 with 14 RBI working mostly behind the plate and earned All League honors.

The Mooresville Spinners won the SCBL title this summer with two 49ers on the roster. Infielder Dante Defranco batted .267 over the season and had four hits in four playoff games while primarily playing 3B. RHP Hale Sims pitched for the Spinners early in the season and struck out 16 in 13.2 IP over four starts.

Incoming freshman JD Suarez led the Concord A’s in HRs this summer with 4 and participated in the SCBL HR Derby. He batted .349 with 10 RBI and scored 21 Runs earning All League honors.

There were two incoming Niners that spent time in the Northwoods League this summer. Catcher Jakob Kouneski batted .200 over 24 games for the Minnesota Mudpuppies and catcher Kaden Hopson played 11 games for the Willmar Stingers early this summer. Hopson is transferring in from Arizona and Kouneski is coming to Charlotte from NIACC.

RHP Tony Rossi, a transfer from State College of Florida, pitched for the Sanford River Rats in the Florida Collegiate Summer League this summer. He struck out 32 in 21 IP over 5 appearances.

And finally, incoming freshman infielder Andrew Grande spent the summer with the Fuquay-Varina Twins of the Tidewater Premier Summer Collegiate League. He hit .333 over 12 games with the Twins.

Editor’s note: Summer league rosters and stats can be illusive. If we discover any additional items, we’ll update them as they become available.

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