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East Clarendon High School
Turbeville

 EC softball on brink of fourth title berth in five years

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Turbeville—The East Clarendon softball team was on a roll down the back half of the season, but most of that momentum trailed off due to a number of factors. Now the Wolverines (16-5) are trying to get untracked and make a run at their first state championship since 2013.

“Right now we’re just trying to take it one game at a time and enjoy it. I don’t want us to be too serious and get uptight, but we went three weeks without playing a ballgame. It’s like starting all over again,” EC head coach Lisa Ard said. “We faced a slow pitcher (from Bethune-Bowman) so it was not pretty. We’ve got to get back in our groove. We were going along pretty good, and then with the weather, spring break, forfeits and byes, there weren’t a lot of ballgames to play.”

After wrapping up the conference crown, the Wolverines earned a bye in the first round of the district playoffs before getting a forfeit in round two.

They defeated Bethune-Bowman to advance to the Lower State Final Four, where they eased past Lake View and Branchville to move into the semifinals. They host Lake View on May 12 needing just one more victory to play for another title.

“There’s not really any pressure. We’ve gone through this four out of the last five years. We’ve won (a state championship) and we’ve lost it. We’re just taking a simple approach to each game and trying to enjoy it because in a few weeks we won’t have this time together anymore. The expectations are always high,” Ard said.

Junior pitcher Marleigh Floyd has been tough inside the circle this season, going 14-4 with a 2.16 earned run average with 73 strikeouts to just 10 walks.

Providing her with run support is junior catcher Abby Reardon (.409 batting average), senior first baseman Mikayla Anderson (.460), junior shortstop Graycen Watts (.429), sophomore third baseman Kinsley Driggers (.567), and junior left fielder Caitlin Timmons (.459).

Other starters include junior second baseman Olivia Singletary, sophomore centerfielder Elly Floyd and senior right fielder Bailey Evans. Sophomore Britni Anderson and junior Shannon Scott are utility players.

“We’ve got a nucleus of juniors that are great students, great players, and they spoil you as a coach. Their work ethic is there on the field and in the classroom. They don’t waste time and they have a good time with whatever they’re accomplishing. This group is together pretty much all year. They’re close friends. They pull for each other and want each other to do well,” Ard said.

If East Clarendon wins the Lower State title, they will face either Lewisville or Dixie. Dixie swept the Wolverines in the finals last year, but must defeat Lewisville twice on the road to have a chance to defend their crown.

 

 2017 a learning experience for East Clarendon baseball

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Turbeville—Sometimes records can be deceiving. Case and point: the 2017 East Clarendon baseball team. The Wolverines finished 9-15 overall and 5-5 in conference play, leaving them in third place in the standings.

However, they played six teams that went on to win district championships in the playoffs (including non-conference opponents Lake City, Mid-Carolina and Lamar) while two region foes – Lake View and Hannah-Pamplico are playing for the Class A Lower State title.

“It was and up and down season,” said first-year head coach Will McMillan. “We started off pretty strong but we had a tough schedule. Out of the top four teams in our region, three of them are playing in Lower State. We’re still young and still learning, and the core of our team was sophomores. Closing out games was a problem. I saw some good things late in the year, especially in the playoffs.”

Four seniors will depart the program after graduation, but the biggest loss will be all-state shortstop Max Smith, who batted .400 with 20 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.

“He had a great baseball IQ and knew what he was going to do at all times. Defensively, he made great plays and he ended up being our offensive MVP. We’ll miss his leadership qualities,” McMillan said.

Also gone will be centerfielder Hunter Lee, who finished the season with a .365 batting average with 18 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.

“Hunter always seemed to be in the right spot at the right time. He was our leadoff guy and had a knack for getting on base and getting that timely hit. He also pitched for us and came in and got us out of some jams,” McMillan said.

Right fielder Nathan Moore and infielder Tripp Beasley will be missed as well.

However, the team’s top two pitchers were only sophomores this season. Dusty Hancock and Justin Evans gained some momentum down the stretch and will try to build on their performances moving forward.

“Our last two games, they stepped up and pitched the best they had all year. That’s something to build on. I think they will be a solid one-two punch that can go out and give us a chance to compete in every game. Pitching should definitely be our strong suit next year,” McMillan said.

One of the biggest surprises for East Clarendon was catcher Ashton Mixon. The sophomore posted a .386 average with 14 runs scored and 11 runs batted in.

“He got better all year. At the end of the season, he was throwing the ball well and not a lot got by him,” McMillan said.

Junior first baseman Noah Feagin was another top performer, hitting .375 with 14 runs scored, 12 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Backup catcher/pitcher Matthew Floyd split time in the lineup throughout the year but came on strong at the end of the season to hit .391.

“We will have a solid group of older players with a mix of younger ones. It will be interesting to see how they mesh and develop over the summer and fall. Preseason workouts and conditioning will be key. It will be a transition year but I feel like we have a good nucleus returning and a lot of young guys with some potential coming up through our jayvee program,” McMillan said.

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