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West Forsyth baseball team to host 5th annual First Pitch Banquet

By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

Baseball practice at West Forsyth won’t officially begin until Feb. 12, but the team and their coaches and parents have been hard at work to prepare for an unofficial kickoff.

West will host the fifth annual First Pitch Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 11, in the Flow Club at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Winston-Salem Dash, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Billy Godwin, the coach at UNC Greensboro and a former scout in the New York Yankees organization, will be the guest speaker.

There will also be dinner and a silent auction, with all money raised going directly to the West Forsyth baseball team.

“For me, it sort of kicks off baseball season,” Coach Brad Bullard of West said. “It kind of gives all of us a sense of excitement that the season is right around the corner. It’s a great chance for our players, alumni, former players, coaches and parents to connect before we kick off the new season.”

Bullard said the idea came to him after noticing a lot of college programs doing something similar.

“I saw they were having a lot of success and it kind of sparked my interest,” Bullard said. “I felt like it would be something that was good for our program and good for our community, something that would be a great fundraiser for us.”

Bullard said he joined forces with parents from his 2014 NCHSAA 4-A state championship team to get things started.

“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” he said with a laugh. “We were just kind of brainstorming on all kinds of silent auction items we could maybe round up. That’s how it got started.”

Link Jarrett, who was the coach at UNC Greensboro at the time and is now the coach at Notre Dame, was the first speaker.

Since then, other area coaches have joined the festivities — Tom Walter (Wake Forest), Kermit Smith (Appalachian State), and Robert Woodard, who was the pitching coach at UNC and is now the head coach at UNC Charlotte.

“We’ve been blessed to have the college coaches we have had over the years come and speak and be so gracious with their time,” Bullard said. “We’ve been very lucky.”

Bullard said that they have had anywhere from 150-200 participants every year. He expects to reach that number again this year.

“We’ve got a lot of great items lined up for the silent auction from local businesses that have been so good to us over the years,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great handmade items, like a West Forsyth cornhole game board with our logo on it that one of our dads made. All kinds of gift cards from area restaurants and stores, like Marco’s Car Wash and Hip Chics Boutique, who have supported us from the beginning. I think we are up to about 50 items that will be auctioned off.”

Bullard said that there still may be space available if anyone is interested in attending.

You can reach out to him via email at bbullard@wsfcs.k12.nc.us with any questions.