Batesburg-Leesville Baseball Enjoying Successful Season At 12-1 Heading Into Spring Break
By Jay Hendrix
Batesburg-Leesville--The Batesburg-Leesville Panthers are having a solid spring sports season with the baseball team leading the way. The Panthers are 12-1 overall and 5-1 in Region 5-AA after picking up key region wins at the end of March over Barnwell and Bamberg-Ehrhardt. The B-L track and field teams and girls soccer teams are also have good springs as they look to advance to the playoffs and make a run.
On the diamond the Panthers are led by a trio of starting pitchers who have combined for a record of 9-1 on the season. Senior Nasir Clark (3-1) leads the team in innings pitched (26) while striking out 30 and allowing just two earned runs on the season to have a miniscule 0.54 ERA and a 0.692 WHIP. Junior Tristan Wheeler and sophomore Payton Dawkins are each 3-0 with 21 and 22 innings pitched each. Wheeler has yet to allow an earned run on the season while striking out 18 to go with a 1.143 WHIP and the 0.00 ERA. Dawkins has an ERA of 3.82 while tying Clark for the team lead with 30 strikeouts.
The senior laden roster features plenty of solid hitters including centerfielder Hunter Bedenbaugh (.489, 9 RBI and 17 runs), catcher Jacob Scruggs (.433, 12 RBI and 8 R), second baseman Parker Eargle (.381, 9 RBI, 17 R) and right fielder Cody Salters (.375, 12 RBI and 13 R). First baseman Cameron Peterson is also senior and has the team’s only home run of the season to go with a .324 batting average, 16 RBI and 14 runs scored.
The Panthers only loss of the season came at Barnwell, 2-1, in early March and since that time the Panthers have won six straight. In late March the Panthers avenged that loss with an 8-0 win and have a 2-1 home win over the always tough Bamberg-Ehrhardt Red Raiders. The other meeting with B-E had to be postponed due to recent rains. If the Panthers are able to win out they will be in a position to win the region crown and secure home field advantage in the playoffs as they hope to make a deep run in the Class AA Lower State Playoffs.
The girls soccer team is preparing for the Class AA Lower State Playoffs as there are not enough teams in Region 5-AA to have a region champion. Midway through the season the Panthers are 9-3 overall with loses to Wade Hampton (H), Airport and a split with lower state foe Barnwell.
The Panthers are led by a group of senior that helped found the team four seasons ago as freshman. They have won three straight conference championships. Some of the senior leaders are goal keeper Kirkland Burkett (Newberry College signee), Kaitlyn Anderson, Shelbi Onofrey (USC Lancaster), Irma Villaseca (USC Lancaster), Haven Banks, Ashlyn McEwen and Courtney Moates. Underclassmen such as Paige Kasier, Eve Robison, Nicole Lee and Meredith Black round out a talented lineup with plenty of scoring power.
The Panthers also have some great talent on the track and field teams. Leading the way on the girl’s side is senior Shandora Cheeseboro who has dominated the hurdles throughout the season along with the long jump and triple jump. The boys also have a talented hurdler in Ty’Juan Abney who is strong in both the 110 and 400 meter hurdles. The Panthers strength may be in their throwers as Ty’Lashia West continues to break her own school records (42’10” shot put) along with Nyfashia Merritt, Ashanti Gilliam and Avonlea Smith. On the boys side Danquarius Jennings leads the way for the throwers with Wells Hallman and JT Wells. Look for many of these athletes in mid-May at the State Championships.