Elijah Wingate has been involved with North Carroll's South Penn League baseball program for nearly a decade and a half.
He's been a player-manager for the Panthers for the last 10 years. While the responsibilities of helping to run a baseball team can be stressful, every so often, Wingate gets a chance to focus his efforts solely on the diamond.
Friday is one of those days.
The Panthers are sending five players to the South Penn League All-Star Game today at Littlestown High School in Pennsylvania. Wingate will be starting at first base, and will be joined by teammates Zak Nedzel (starter, second base), Mark Snell (reserve, DH), Matt Angell ( reserve, catcher) and Dan Ditman (reserve, pitcher).
"It's definitely a lot of fun," said Wingate, who guesses this will be either his seventh or eighth time playing in the all-star game. "It's a lot of fun getting out to play with guys you don't play with every day."
Also representing North Carroll will be Brandon March, who will take his place on the bench as an assistant coach. Since the Panthers won the league in 2013, March was the all-star game manager last year.
"It's pretty awesome," he said of the atmosphere. "Especially at Littlestown. A lot more of the South Penn League fans come out. It's fun to play under the lights."
The South Penn League All-Stars will take on the Mid-Maryland Semi-Pro Baseball League All-Stars Friday night at 7:30.
After a slow start, Wingate is hitting .343 with a pair of doubles, a home run and four RBIs on the season. Nedzel leads the Panthers' regulars with a .355 average. He has also knocked in five runs on the season.
Angell's .269 average at the plate and two stolen bases earned him a nod for the all-star game, as did Ditman's 4.20 ERA, 2-1 record and 16 strikeouts on the mound.
Coming into this season, Wingate said he didn't know much about Snell, who is hitting just slightly under the .300 mark, though he's tied for second on the team with three doubles, and leads the team with 11 RBIs. Angell recruited the designated hitter, and he's been successful so far for the red and black.
"He's been a very good addition this year," Wingate added.
Snell is a first-time all-star, while Nedzel and Angell will both be participating for the second time. Ditman was selected last year for the first time, but was not able to attend.
Ben Wilson, an 18-year-old playing in his first season with the team, has also been a strong addition to the club. The young slugger is hitting .562 on the season with a home run and five RBIs in just five games, which is why he won't be joining his teammates at the all-star game.
The Panthers are currently 7-6, and have lost five of their last seven games. With 11 games till to be played, March isn't worried about how the Panthers, who are Maryland's only representative in the South Penn League, will fair. With the hitting starting to come to form, things could be starting to click for North Carroll as the second half of the season gets underway.
"As soon as our guys start coming through in the clutch with runners in scoring position, we're going to be unstoppable," March said. "It's starting to get there, we've just got to put it all together at once."