ALBEMARLE — The Uwharrie Wampus Cats, a new wood-bat collegiate baseball team coming to Albemarle, have been officially introduced as the team prepares for its inaugural 2023 season.
Just one week after a multiyear lease between Albemarle Parks & Recreation and Sullimak Entertainment was approved by the Albemarle City Council, the name and colors of the upcoming team were unveiled by company president Greg Sullivan at a Jan. 31 press conference.
Branded in yellow, brown and orange, the team’s mascot — a wampus cat — is a mythological creature in American folklore that has shared some historic associations with the Uwharrie Forest.
Led by Catawba Valley Community College assistant coach and now Uwharrie head coach Houston Wright, the Wampus Cats are slated to play around 40 games independently of a league during the summer, including home matchups at the newly upgraded Don Montgomery Park.
More than 20 collegiate players have already agreed to play for the club with more to come.
Last fall, Wright joined the coaching staff for the nationally ranked JUCO powerhouse Catawba Valley Red Hawks, working primarily with infielders and hitters. His time in Albemarle will be his first experience as a head coach.
“This opportunity for me to be a head coach is something that at one time I would never have dreamed of,” Wright said in a team press release. “As a player, I enjoyed my time playing during the summer and I’m excited to be the head coach in Albemarle. It’s like my hometown of Gaffney, SC, in that I know the fans will be passionate and I can’t wait to show the community all the baseball talent we have coming this summer. And I can’t wait to see the fans at Don Montgomery Park.”
Prior to the start of the season, Albemarle Parks & Recreation will be renovating and adding upgrades to Don Montgomery Park, including tabletop and picnic seating additions, a new sound system, updates to the bathroom and concession areas, and additional fencing. The fan experience will also include in-game entertainment, a wampus cat mascot, concessions and beer.
“We want to really bring something that we all feel will be an asset for the city and the region and give one more thing to bring people to this area,” Sullivan said. “We really feel that Albemarle is a regional hub and capital for the Uwharrie region and a place where people from counties bordering Stanly County can come spend their summer time. We want to be something that the community rallies behind in Albemarle and Stanly County, but we also want to draw people from as far as Monroe, Denton, Mount Pleasant, and all these communities around the county.”
Sullivan’s company, Sullimak Entertainment, also owns the Winston-Salem-based Carolina Disco Turkeys — a team that will appear on the Wampus Cats’ schedule — along with exhibition opponents such as Wilmington Sharks and Boone Bigfoots of the Coastal Plain League.
Per the team’s official website, tickets for Uwharrie Wampus Cats games will start at $7 and are set to go on sale soon. The City of Albemarle will receive a portion of ticket revenue from the team’s games this summer. As of current plans, the schedule will run from late May through early August with most of the games during June and July.