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Batesburg-Leesville High School

Panthers Experience Great Spring

By: Jay Hendrix

 

Batesburg-Leesville High School has nearly wrapped up one of the most successful springs in recent years as they won region championships in both girls and boys track and field along with trips to the Class AA Lower State Championships in baseball and girls soccer. The spring wraps up a successful year with six region titles in Region 5-AA.

 

The Panther baseball season came to an end in the lower state championship game at Latta 5-4 in a 13 inning marathon. The Panthers wrapped up the season 21-6 overall and finished second in Region 5-AA. Fifth year head coach Rob Bouknight took the Panthers to their first state semifinal since 2004 with a group of seniors that have helped revive a program that had gone through several coaches in the years preceding Bouknight.

 

The seniors include starters Parker Eargle (.403 BA, 16 RBI), Nasir Clark (.303, 14 RBI batting and 4-3 with 1.305 ERA pitching), Jacob Scruggs (.400 and 18 RBI), Hunter Bedenbaugh (.402 and 15 RBI ), Josh Scruggs (one home run and 13 RBI) along with key reserves such as Cody Salter, JaQuez McKiever, Kirkland Dukes and Kendal Powell. The Panthers also had great pitching from junior Tristan Wheeler (7-0 with .318 ERA) and sophomore Payton Dawkins (4-1 with 3.99 ERA) throughout the season. Those two combined to keep the Panthers in the final game as Wheeler started and went seven innings and Dawkins came in and allowed only the winning run in six innings of relief. The Panthers knocked off Academic Magnet, Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Buford and Burke in the playoffs while dropping two games to Latta.

 

The girls soccer team wrapped up their fourth season of existence with the best run in school history as they advanced to their first ever lower state championship and finished with a record of 17-4. The Panthers knocked off Woodland and Governor’s School for Science and Math before falling to Academic Magnet. Under first year head coach Maggee Ellis the Panthers were led by a group of 10 seniors who have been a part of the team since its inception. Those seniors include leading scorer Kaitlyn Anderson, goalkeeper Kirkland Burkett, Courtney Moates, Shelbi Onofrey, Ashlyn McEwen, Haven Banks, Kassie Rabon, Rylee Williams, Lexie Coleman and Irma Villaseca. Burkett, Villasecca and Onofrey have all signed to play college soccer while several others are considering their options. Underclassmen such as Paige Kaiser, Nicole Lee and Eve Robison have all been key to the Panthers success and will be looked to lead the team in the future after the graduation of so many great players.

 

The softball team wrapped up one of the best seasons in many years as they won the district crown before falling in the lower state playoffs with loses to Barnwell and Andrews. The Panthers don’t have a single softball senior on the roster but have a boatload of underclassman talent for fourth year head coach Tim Covington. Pitcher Jaylah Barr has been key to the Panthers success in the circle as well as hitting. In the district the Panthers beat Woodland and Marion to claim the crown. Along with Barr’s play the Panthers had great hitting throughout the season from Kiarra Quattlebaum, Ryanne Yarbrough, Amie Johnson and Caroline Bedenbaugh. Covington, who was chosen as a coach for the North South All-Star game will have plenty of talent returning in 2018 to challenge Barnwell in the region and make another run in the playoffs.

 

The track and field teams both won the Region 5-AA championships. Shandora Cheeseboro is a star on the girls side as she won both the 100 and 400 meter hurdles and will be a threat in the state championships after winning both lower state crowns. Cheeseboro also won the region crown in the long and triple jumps. Ty-Layshia West is a threat to win state in the shot put after claiming the lower state title with a throw of 44’2” which qualified her for nationals. The boys side is led by another hurdler, Ti’Jan Abney who won the lower state championship in the 110 meter hurdles. He also finished second in the 400 meter hurdles to qualify for state. Other state qualifiers for the girls include Lauren Caughman, Nyfasia Merritt, Christina Oswald and the 4x800 team of Catherine Bedenbaugh, Liza Rios, Anna Gonzales and Secadia Jackson. For the boys, joining Abney are Daijohn Coleman-Scott, Danquarius Jennings, Cayden Bundrick and the 4x800 team of James Barr, Justin Castro and Zafir Brown who are joined by Abney.

 

The Panthers golf team placed third in the Region 5-AA meet but Butler Moore was All-Region and earned a trip to the state meet.

 

 

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