By Mike London
2016 record: 18-9, lost 2nd round of the 3A state playoffs.
League record: 13-5, 2nd place in the 10-team South Piedmont Conference.
Coach: Brian Hightower. 13th season at East. Record is 235-102. He’s had 10 winning seasons at East, 1 break-even season, 1 losing season. East has finished 1st or second in its league 10 of the last 11 seasons.
Strengths: Rowan County American Legion stars John Owen and Chandler Blackwelder are seniors and should be two of the county’s top players.
Question mark: East must replace its entire infield, including shortstop Ike Freeman, a .518 hitter who won the Mark Norris Memorial Award as Rowan County Player of the Year. Freeman is now a freshman at UNC.
• As a junior, John Owen won the Patrick Snider Memorial Award as the Rowan County Pitcher of the Year. He was 10-2…