WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Former Manteo baseball star Michael Allen

By on October 10, 2019

Michael Allen

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like for a college baseball player — well, it isn’t all spring weather and manicured fields. It also means a lot of time spent in gyms and weight rooms, and even more time spent running and doing cardio drills.

A lot of this training occurs in the offseason in less than ideal weather conditions. It often occurs early in the morning before most other students have even gotten out of bed. Such is life for former Manteo High School baseball player Michael Allen, who is now a sophomore at Lenoir-Rhyne University, located about an hour’s drive northwest of Charlotte in Hickory.

Allen was one of three kids growing up in the house in Manteo. With one sister currently playing volleyball at Manteo Middle School and the other a member of the varsity softball team, it’s safe to say that sports are a family affair. Reflecting on his childhood, Allen mentioned memories of playing wiffle ball in the front yard with his oldest sister.

And he has loved playing baseball as far back as he can remember. That led him to participate in the Dare County Parks and Recreation baseball programs as a child and eventually directed him to a travel team out of Greenville. Allen graduated to Manteo High’s varsity baseball program where he starred for head coach Alfie Wheeler. In addition to playing for the Redskins, he also participated in the Powerade State Games and with the showcase team EvoShield Canes.

Tryouts for the Powerade State Games consisted of practicing and playing in front of college scouts. That experience, in conjunction with conversations with Coach Wheeler, gave him the confidence that he could play baseball at the college level. He carried that growing confidence into his senior season, and it wasn’t long before Lenoir-Rhyne coach Tom Fleenor came calling.

Allen committed to Lenior-Rhyne and while Fleenor was fired during the offseason, Allen has no regrets. In fact, in his one year under Fleenor, Allen showed great improvement. In 14 appearances out of the bullpen, Allen put together a 3.96 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and an impressive 31/10 strikeout to walk ratio over 25 innings pitched. He also packed some muscle onto his 5’10” frame and gained four to five miles per hour on his fastball.

With a new physique and a new coach, the sophomore pitcher also hopes for an expanded role this season, whether that be starting games, closing games, or working in middle relief. I recently had the chance to ask Allen to talk about life as a student-athlete living in Hickory, and just how different it is from Manteo.

Q: What do you miss most about the Outer Banks?

A: What I miss most about the Outer Banks is the hunting and fishing. Growing up with my dad, who loved to fish, really got me into it as well. I love to fish on the pier in the summer for cobia as well in the fall for red drum. In the spring and fall, I spend a lot of time trout fishing in the sound. I also badly miss hunting with my friends. I can’t wait to get home for Christmas break to go duck hunting.


Q: What is your fondest memory of your playing career at Manteo?

A: The greatest memory of my playing career in high school was the second round of the state playoffs my senior year. We were the No. 9 seed in the tournament playing the No. 1 seed. Everyone in the state was certain that Voyager Academy, the team we were playing, was going to win. I was starting the game on the mound and I didn’t let the odds get to me. We ended up winning 3-2 and advancing to the third round and I pitched a complete game.


Q: What is the biggest difference between high school baseball and college baseball?

A: The biggest difference between high school baseball and college baseball is the workload. As a pitcher, I’m out on the field throwing every day, conditioning every day, and lifting at 5:45 a.m. four days a week. College baseball isn’t for everyone. You must commit yourself to it and grind out the work.


Q: Is there any one person or persons who have been a major influence on your life and/or playing career? How so?

A: There have been many coaches that have influenced me to get better physically, mentally, and by teaching me to grow as a person. James Molinari [his former travel team coach] really taught me the mental side of the game and how to be good without having a ton of talent. My high school coach, Alfie Wheeler, was a great guide to prepare for college and gave me a sense of leadership by teaching me how to carry myself on and off the field. The one person who really got me to where I’m at today was my dad by pushing me to always be better, always telling me to push through.


Q: When not playing baseball or in class, what do you do in Hickory?

A: I usually hang out with my friends on the team, whether it’s watching a baseball or football game or shooting pool at the pool hall. Sometimes we use the down time to play video games. Finding down time is very important for a college athlete because there is so much on their plate. Down time is the key to being 100% for your next practice, game, or test.

Tom Hoggard is sports director/media consultant at East Carolina Radio. He hosts the Outer Banks Sports Report on 98.1 The Score Monday through Friday from 7 to 9 a.m.

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