Knights, Bears participate in 2nd annual Grady Lawson Memorial Baseball Tournament

Posted 4/21/21

RAMSEUR — With high school baseball season just around the corner, fans got an early look at a couple of Chatham teams on Saturday.

Chatham Charter and Chatham Central participated in the Grady …

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Knights, Bears participate in 2nd annual Grady Lawson Memorial Baseball Tournament

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RAMSEUR — With high school baseball season just around the corner, fans got an early look at a couple of Chatham teams on Saturday.

Chatham Charter and Chatham Central participated in the Grady Lawson Memorial Baseball Tournament in Ramseur, each of them playing in an informal scrimmage that allowed them to work out some kinks, practice in-game scenarios and gauge the talent of their team.

The Knights faced off in the early game against the North Moore Mustangs, while the Bears played the Carlisle Chiefs, who traveled from Martinsville, Virginia, to attend the event.

While neither game technically kept score — the scoreboard at Craven Field remained unplugged — the unofficial scores had Chatham Charter losing to the Mustangs, 10-2, while Chatham Central earned a 10-6 comeback victory over the Chiefs.

This was the second annual baseball “tournament” honoring Eastern Randolph legend Grady Lawson, who died in 2017. All of the proceeds from the event went straight to the Grady Lawson Memorial Scholarship Fund, a scholarship set up by his family that is given to an Eastern Randolph student-athlete each year.

Lawson, a staple in the Ramseur community, is remembered for his dedication to baseball and Eastern Randolph athletics, but even more so for his dedication to helping others, especially student-athletes.

He was a man of many trades, owning a service station, serving on the Randolph County Board of Education for 40 years, helping out with American Legion baseball as the athletic officer for Eastern Randolph Post 81, among other things.

You name it, he was probably involved with it.

“He just took care of everything (for Post 81),” said Mike Lawson, Grady’s son. “He didn’t coach, but he did the recruiting and he got all of the players, took care of transportation and meals. His thing was, ‘Nobody’s ever going to pay to play baseball for me. You don’t pay to play a game. If you want to play, you’re going to play. If you need a glove, we’ll get you a glove.’”

He’s won numerous awards, was inducted into both the American Legion and Eastern Randolph Halls of Fame and was beloved everywhere he went.

As one of his granddaughters, Kelly Young, put it, “He was like royalty.”

The tournament consisted of four games between eight high schools at two different venues, Grady Lawson Field at Eastern Randolph and Craven Field in Ramseur. Both Chatham teams played their games at the latter.

For the Knights, their main focus was on the first few innings.

As is customary for pre-season exhibition games, Bill Slaughter, Chatham Charter’s head coach, limited playing time for some of his starters. That included senior starting pitcher Trevor Golden, who threw the ball extremely well in his first game since last spring.

Golden tossed three scoreless innings, allowing zero runs on no hits while striking out five batters and walking one. He often got down early in the count but battled his way back in many instances to force a groundout or a strikeout.

“I was impressed with Trevor on the mound, which I expect him to be really good for us,” Slaughter said after the scrimmage. “I know North Moore’s going to be a good team, but it also tells me that with Trevor throwing in a playoff-type situation, we can hang right with them.”

North Moore scored two runs in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt, taking a 2-0 lead into the fifth.

Chatham Charter struggled to get their bats going for most of the day, waiting until the fifth inning to get their first hit on a single by Golden. Later in the fifth, with freshman shortstop Aidan Allred on the mound, the Mustangs collected six hits and a few walks, scoring eight runs and blowing the game wide open.

The Knights scored a couple of times in the top of the sixth thanks to an error and a passed ball, but once they struck out three times to end the inning, the game was essentially over.

Chatham Charter is a young team with just three seniors on its roster. It has plenty of athletes who haven’t played baseball in years, along with a few who are primarily basketball players, including sophomore Adam Harvey, the Central Tar Heel conference’s 2020-21 men’s basketball player of the year.

Even though some of them jokingly looked like deer in headlights at the plate, Slaughter said getting them in-game scenarios is what’s going to make them better and get them prepared for real competition.

“A lot of this is mental in baseball,” Slaughter said. “With 16 players, I wanted to make sure everyone got the experience of going up there and batting against a live pitcher because everybody looks good when you toss in (batting practice). We’re all Mickey Mantle when we’re in the cage, but all of a sudden when you have someone that’s trying to get you out on purpose, it’s a whole different game.”

While the result might have been different for Chatham Central, the sentiment was the same. It was nice to get a little bit of friendly competition in.

The Bears got themselves in a massive hole early as senior starting pitcher Michael Moore — a week removed from the end of football season, where he’s the team’s all-conference quarterback — struggled to knock the rust off.

Carlisle capitalized off of plenty of hits in the first inning, scoring four runs. The Chiefs would add a couple more in the fourth, most notably on an RBI triple by senior Garret Kangas. Before the Bears could get themselves on the board, they were already down by six runs.

“(Moore’s) struggling with strikes and he knows that, but he’s a guy we’re going to have to ride,” said Brett Walden, Chatham Central’s head coach. “He knows he’s got to throw more strikes, but once he does that, I think he can be pretty dominant once we get in league play.”

The Bears’ bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth as they scored four runs of their own, including a two-RBI triple by junior Luke Oldham on a long at-bat where he continuously wore the pitcher down until he gave Oldham a perfect ball to hit.

Chatham Central kept the stove hot for the rest of the scrimmage, culminating in a four-run seventh inning with the game tied to take a 10-6 lead, completing their streak of 10 unanswered runs and solidifying the unofficial win.

“Once they got down the line in their pitching rotation, it being a scrimmage and all, things loosened up a little bit,” Walden said. “Overall, I had a few guys play fall ball, but considering we hadn’t played in 370 days, it’s not terrible. I’m pretty happy with what we did today.”

Per the NCHSAA, baseball teams are allowed just one scrimmage this season due to COVID-19 protocols, so this will be the last we see of the Knights and Bears until they throw their first pitches later this month.

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.


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