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Thomas Heyward High School
Ridgeland

Thomas Heyward softball prepares for playoffs; baseball ousted in first-round

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Ridgeland – If any softball program in SCISA knows about winning games and competing for state championships, it’s the Lady Rebels of the Thomas Heyward Academy program.

No stranger to being in the mix for a state title, the program begins its 2017 playoff journey on Friday, May 12th, as the SCISA Class AA softball tournament begins in Lexington.

Thomas Heyward has played in the last three state championship series in AA, losing to Thomas Sumter in 2014, and losing in 2015 and 2016 to Williamsburg Academy. Over the last four seasons, Thomas Heyward sports a 91-30 record, including a 15-11 regular season mark this spring. Five of those losses this season came by one run.

For the first time in several years, Thomas Heyward enters the playoffs as a dark horse as opposed to a favorite. But coach Bob Layman has enough talent and some veteran leadership to make another title run.

The Lady Rebels open the playoffs against Pee Dee Academy, a team they split with during the regular season. Included in their four-team bracket is Williamsburg and Robert E. Lee. In the other bracket are Colleton Prep, Marlboro Academy, Thomas Sumter and Carolina Academy. Thomas Heyward lost games to Marlboro Academy and Thomas Sumter during the regular season, and split a pair of region games with Colleton Prep.

Leading the way this spring for Layman are senior Hannah Cannon and sophomore Ivy Bryan. Bryan enters the playoffs as the team’s leading hitter, boasting a .507 batting average with a team-high 43 RBI’s and 37 hits.

Cannon, headed to Charleston Southern to play collegiately, is hitting .451 with 37 hits, three homers and 26 RBI’s. Since starting as an eighth-grader, Cannon has blasted 20 career homeruns and accumulated 141 career hits.

Junior pitcher Cheyenne Strong is hitting .387 with 11 RBI. In the circle, Strong has a 2.06 earned run average with 147 strikeouts in 115 innings. Opponents are hitting only .216 against her.

Senior Mikayla Blanton has contributed offensively with a .327 batting average while junior Alayna Delong is hitting .316 with 14 stolen bases and 10 RBI’s.

As a team, Thomas Heyward hit .323 with 64 stolen bases during the regular season.

 The baseball team at Thomas Heyward finished its season in the playoffs, losing to Robert E. Lee in a first-round best-of-three series. The Rebels posted a 12-10 record this season.

Senior Blake Bannon enjoyed another solid season for the Rebels. Bannon finished the regular season with a team-best .607 batting average, totaling 34 hits and 22 RBI’s. He also posted a .635 on-base-percentage and 20 stolen bases while being named the region co-player of the year with Hilton Head Christian’s Dargan Cherry.

Bannon has totaled 61 hits with 44 RBI’s over the last two seasons.

Junior Devin Scott finished the regular season with a .415 batting average and drove in 16 runs while junior Zach Bond hit .333 with 13 stolen bases.

Senior Spencer Hexamer batted .308 with 14 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases while sophomore Bryce Tillotson hit .306 with 24 RBI’s and 18 stolen bases.

Scott, Bond and Bannon, along with freshman Louie Smith handled most of the pitching duties this spring. Scott, Bond and Smith will anchor the pitching staff next season.

Other seniors on the baseball roster this season included Andy Boyles, Bret Mixson, Justin Davis and Paul Murdaugh.

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