Wolverines looking for consistency as playoffs loom
By C.R. Cumbee
Turbeville—The East Clarendon baseball team has had some growing pains under first-year head coach Will McMillan. After facing a difficult non-conference schedule, the Wolverines are 6-11 overall, including a 5-3 mark in region play, tied with Green Sea-Floyds for third in the standings.
“We lost 5-2 to Hannah-Pamplico but we outhit them, seven to three. Some days we have struggled hitting, but a lot of times we’ve gotten guys on and weren’t able to get the clutch hits when we needed them. Our pitching has been up and down. We’ve got to be consistent. We’ll play lights out one game and not show up the next,” McMillan said.
Several players are having standout seasons, including senior shortstop Max Smith, who is hitting .444 with 13 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. He’s also the leader of the defense.
“He’s moved back and forth between the three-hole and four-hole (in the batting order). He’s one of the guys we can count on. Defensively, if you need an out, you hope the ball is hit to him. He’s definitely our best infielder and he just knows baseball,” McMillan said.
Junior first baseman/left fielder Noah Feagin is batting a team-high .458 while senior centerfielder Hunter Lee boasts a .353 average with 12 runs scored.
Sophomore catcher Ashton Mixon (.367), freshman third baseman Aidan Singletary (.350) and sophomore catcher/pitcher Matthew Floyd (.333) are also swinging hot bats. On the bases, the Wolverines have swiped 53 bags as a team.
On the mound, sophomore Justin Evans has stepped up and taken control of the staff. He was shaky at times to begin the season, but evolved into an ace as the year progressed.
“He pitched a complete game shutout against Green Sea-Floyds and only gave up two hits,” McMillan said. “He struggled early on but he’s starting to get where I thought he could be. He’s definitely our number one guy.”
East Clarendon has just three games remaining in the regular season. The Wolverines go on the road to region-leading Lake View April 6th before taking a week off for spring break. The final home contest is April 18th versus Hannah-Pamplico.
“We’re just trying to find our groove. We played really well in the preseason against some bigger schools, but we’ve had some letdowns. We have to stay the course and keep working. Things are starting to come together, even though it may not show it in our record,” McMillan said.
East Clarendon softball closing in on region title
By C.R. Cumbee
Turbeville—East Clarendon softball coach Lisa Ard knew she would have one of the top teams in the state this spring, but her ball club has done even better than expected so far. The Wolverines are 14-5 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the region standings.
“(Conference play) hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would be. A lot of them have younger teams this year and Hannah-Pamplico has a new coach. It also could be because we’re hitting the ball right now,” Ard said.
“Right now we’re playing up to our potential. We’re hitting well and Marleigh is pitching well. She’s not a strikeout artist so she’s pitching to contact and we’re making the plays behind her. We haven’t made many errors. We’re rolling right along.”
Marleigh Floyd, the only new starter this season for East Clarendon, has settled into her role as pitcher and has continued to improve. The junior is 11-4 overall and has a 2.33 earned run average with 53 strikeouts and nine walks in 78 innings pitched.
“She’s pitched real well the last couple of weeks. We played four games that first week and her fingers were raw and all torn up. Now that we’re back to only a couple games a week, she’s healed and throwing the ball well. She’s tough and did everything she could, even though she couldn’t really feel anything. She wants to be there for her teammates,” Ard said.
At the plate, sophomore third baseman Kinsley Driggers has been one of the hardest outs. The cleanup hitter is batting .543 with four home runs and 24 runs batted in.
“Special K is rolling. Even her ground balls are hit so hard. I’d be scared to field them,” Ard said.
Junior left fielder Caitlin Timmons has also caused opposing pitchers problems. An all-state selection in basketball, she’s accumulated a .500 average with three home runs and 17 RBI.
“She’s just an athlete. She goes hard at everything she does and she’s really good,” Ard said. “She’s not a big talker. She’s more of a doer. She’s a really smart child that is exceptional at everything.”
Other players having success in the batter’s box include junior catcher Abby Reardon (.429), junior second baseman Olivia Singletary (.417) and senior first baseman Mikayla Anderson (.400).
East Clarendon will travel to Lake View (April 5) before returning home to face Hannah-Pamplico (April 6) in the regular season finale.
“Hopefully we can get through these last two region games undefeated and then we’ll take spring break off. They’ll get to relax and then get excited about playing softball again. We’ll have a week with no games when we come back, so we’ll get in the cage and on the field and get back in shape for the playoffs,” Ard said.