Craven Community College’s (CCC) Craven Panthers club baseball team just finished its 10th season. Division II of the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA). In 2003, Joe Caracci was a work-study student at the college and worked with other students to establish intramural sports clubs and activities. Caracci’s passion for the sport and desire to go into coaching led him to assemble a formal club baseball team at CCC in 2004.
“I was a player for New Bern High School’s baseball team and I wanted to continue to play when I went to college,” said Caracci. Caracci managed the team until 2007. Caracci is currently the head coach for East Carolina University’s club baseball team, and is the coordinator for NCBA Division II District III, which is the district Craven Panthers play in. “While I am no longer actively involved, it is fun to keep tabs on CCC’s team,” said Caracci.
In 2007, Kenny Connor became coach of the team. Connor recently retired from the Craven County School System after 32 years, where Connor spent his career in physical education and coaching. Connor played baseball for New Bern High School, and he continued to play while going to college. Joining Connor in coaching the team is Jim Griffiths, the team’s assistant coach.
Each Panther’s baseball regular season runs from February to April, and games are played on Saturdays and Sundays. The team holds practice at Heath Field in New Bern and plays their home games at the Big Rock Stadium in Morehead City, N.C., home of the Morehead City Marlins collegiate summer team. “We are fortunate to have the support of New Bern Parks and Recreation and the players really enjoy playing games at Big Rock’s professional ballpark setting,” said Connor. The Craven Panthers have advanced to the regional playoffs five of the seven years that Connor has managed the team.
Craven Panthers student baseball club is funded by student activities fees, player dues, and it accepts support from community organizations. Craven County Insurance Agents Association has supported the team for the past several years. Admission to games is free and open to the public. “We could not provide this valuable student program without the support of the college, community and students,” said Connor. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0 while taking nine credit hours of classes.
Nathan Everett has played baseball since he was about six years old. Everett came to CCC in spring 2014 and is working toward his career goal of being a firefighter. Last season, Everett was the team’s catcher and a switch hitter. “Because of the club’s academic requirements, I have the motivation to be a good student,” said Everett.
The baseball club is actively recruiting players for the spring 2015 season. For more information about the club, contact Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-637-6035. For more information about NCBA Division II, go to: http://www.clubbaseball.org/div2
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.