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Colleton County High School
Walterboro

Colleton County baseball off to impressive start

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Walterboro – Two years ago, the Colleton County baseball program made big news when it advanced to the Class AAAA Lower State final four under then first-year head coach Jermale Paige.

Looking to build on that strong season, the Cougars slipped a bit last spring, falling to 8-12 and missing the state playoffs by one game.

Lessons learned and a veteran cast returning, the 2019 Cougars are back on track. Colleton County opened the 2019 season with eight wins in their first 10 outings, including wins over AAAAA Berkeley, White Knoll, Wando and Fort Dorchester.

Paige has high expectations for his 2019 team.

“This team has all the ingredients to make a good run,” Paige says. “With the way we have started, the confidence level is very high. This team is capable of winning the region, winning the district and advancing very far. Those are the goals. This team has tremendous spirit and they walk out there every night expecting to win. We have 12 guys competing every day. It’s a very strong knit group with great chemistry and a common goal.”

The Cougars are led on the mound by senior Chase Hadwin, a right-hander who has signed with Erskine. Hadwin has been lights out this spring, tossing a no-hitter in a win over Wando and allowing just one hit in a 1-0 win over Fort Dorchester.

“Chase came out of the pen mostly last year but he knew coming into this season that he had to be the go-to guy,” Paige said. “He really put in a lot of work and has been really special so far this season.”

Senior Lane Lee is a very capable second starter and freshman Warren Hunter has been a solid surprise as the number three starter, posting two early wins.

“We sort of look at all three guys as number one guys,” Paige said. “All three can pitch and they compete on every pitch.”

Charleston Southern signee Henry Gibson is back as the team leader behind the plate.

“He’s playing with no pressure now and he’s off to a great start,” Paige said.

Lee is working at first base defensively, along with sophomore Ben Kennedy, who also works as the designated hitter and hits cleanup.

The middle infield combination of Trey Nettles at second and Cody Cox at short is among the best in the state. Both are fifth-year varsity starters and excellent defenders. Nettles hits out of the leadoff position as well.

 Sophomore Jackson Bell is starting at third base. Sophomore Chance Palmer is the early starter in left while defensive anchor Jackson Morelli is starting in center. Senior Wes Bryan is a first-year starter in right.

The Cougars open region play with a three-game series against Hilton Head on March 25th. Those region series, also with Bluffton and Beaufort, determine playoff fates.

“We know that’s when it counts so we have to be ready to play our best baseball in those region games,” Paige said.

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