Lower Richland boys making strides on diamond
By C.R. Cumbee
Hopkins—The Lower Richland baseball team took some lumps last season, but is much improved this spring. Second-year coach Terrence Smalls, who started for The Citadel before playing several years in the Florida Marlins organization, has focused on the little things as he tries to build the program since being hired last February.
“A lot of the fundamental stuff we would have put in during the fall, we had to do during the season. Our level of understanding on the mental side took a bit of a hit last year. This fall, we got in the weight room and worked on the mental stuff. I want them to understand why we do things,” Smalls said.
The Diamond Hornets are 3-6 overall and 0-4 in conference play at the halfway point. They have two games each with A.C. Flora and Orangeburg-Wilkinson, and a pair of victories would secure the school’s first playoff berth in more than a decade.
“From what I’ve been told from other coaches, the parents and members of the community is that we are so much better. That’s gratifying to me, but I’m a perfectionist and I want that to equate to wins. We have gotten 100 percent better. Other teams are starting to throw their top pitchers against us, and seeing that will eventually make our guys better,” Smalls said.
While Lower Richland has plenty of seniors on its roster, a couple of younger players have really stood out this spring. Freshman outfielder Joseph Gilmore is batting .540 this year and is also the ace of the pitching staff.
“What impresses me the most about him is he is a student of the game. We have worked on pitches in certain counts and he’s understanding it. Offensively, he’s starting to turn the corner and that’s exciting to see. He still continues to work. He wants to go hit all the time and work on his pickoff moves. He leads by example and I’m glad that I’ll have him for a few more years,” Smalls said.
Eighth-grader Kamari Anderson has seen the most action at catcher, but may be the most versatile athlete on the team. He can also play shortstop, centerfield and pitch, and currently has a .375 batting average.
“His athletic ability is very natural. He’s very fluid and has a lot of the intangibles. I played against his dad so he’s got that baseball pedigree,” Smalls said.
Other starters include shortstop Coby Baker, first baseman Malcolm Brown, third baseman Ashford Murray, centerfielder Tyrese Washington, second baseman Jamal Walker, outfielder Shaun Jones and utility man Josh Pearson.
Also on the roster this season is seventh-grader Jeremy Barne, freshman Kevin Wilson and seniors Ralph King, Juwan Wilson, Shamar Rice and Eli Beacham.