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Barnwell High School

Barnwell softball battling for Lower State title

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Barnwell—After a stellar regular season, the Barnwell softball team is hoping to finish strong as they fight for a berth in the Class AA state championship series. The Warhorses are currently 22-3 overall and have reached the Lower State Final Four.

 “Right now we’re doing well. We’ve been playing pretty good defense so I like our chances as far as that goes. Hitting-wise, we’ve kind of struggled in some areas but we’ve had some other people step up,” head coach Carol Massengale said.

Barnwell earned another region title before claiming a district crown by defeated conference foe Bamberg-Ehrhardt twice. Then they saw another familiar opponent in the opening round of the Lower State tournament when they took down Batesburg-Leesville.

“That was the fourth time we had played Bamberg this year and then we played Batesburg for the third time. They play hard and give you everything they have so you can never breathe easy when you’re playing them,” Massengale said.

Now the Warhorses have the toughest obstacle ahead of them in Latta, who won the Class A state title two years ago. If they get through the Vikings, Barnwell will be back in the finals for the first time since 2011.

“They’re one of the best teams we’ve seen all year. If we can hit with them, I think we’ll be okay. It has to be one through nine. We can’t have only one or two people hitting,” Massengale said.

Pitcher Kelci Brown has been dominant inside the circle and at the plate this spring. She’s posted a 1.30 earned run average and struck out 144 batters while hitting .511 with 16 runs batted in.

Catcher Kaylie Pridgen has seven doubles and 30 RBI, and third baseman Kyra Shuler and first baseman Anna Beth Grissom have eight doubles each. Shuler and Grissom have also driven in 26 and 25 runs, respectively.

One of the bigger surprises of the year has been eighth-grade shortstop Maleah Williams, who has played much older than her age.

“It wasn’t what she wanted to do at the time, but we felt like she was good enough to play on the varsity. We tried to encourage her and she turned into a super little player for us,” Massengale said.

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