Youth not slowing down Orangeburg Prep softball
By C.R. Cumbee
Orangeburg—To say that the Orangeburg Prep softball team is young would be an understatement. Of head coach Jan Stoudenmire’s 11-player roster, there are two seniors, two juniors, a freshman and six eighth-graders. Even with all the youth, the Indians are 8-5 this season.
“I think we’re definitely think we’re going to be all right in the next couple of years. We’ve been competitive in our league. We have made some mistakes on the bases and defensively, not calling balls, but it’s still kind of early,” Stoudenmire said. “The biggest positive is their athletic ability. That’s something we can build on. They’ve played a lot of travel ball and summer ball and they know the game.”
Both seniors have provided quality leadership this year. Taylor Edwards is one of Orangeburg Prep’s starting pitchers and also sees time at shortstop while Victoria Williams is in centerfield.
“Taylor is vocal for us on the field and she’s been in the softball program for a long time,” Stoudenmire said. “Victoria is a great basketball player and because we were low on numbers, I asked her to play. She’s very fast and the kids love her and look up to her. Both of them have been great leaders.”
Perhaps the best athlete on the team is shortstop/third baseman Abby Montgomery, who Stoudenmire believes has unlimited potential as long as she continues to work hard.
“She’s probably batting around .600 and we’ve seen some pretty good pitching. I moved her up to leadoff so she would come up to bat more times and she can play anywhere. She’s made some good defensive plays and being only 14 years old, I don’t think she realizes how good she is,” Stoudenmire said.
Eighth-grader Kaylee Schurlknight is the team’s other pitcher while freshman Kennerly Ann Bair handles the catching duties. Junior Brooke Nettles is the first baseman with youngsters Cierra Banks and JoJo Wolfe at second and third base, respectively.
Flanking Williams in the outfield Lindsay Salley in left and Bailey Livingston in right. Junior Megan Williams is another outfielder that will rotate in.
Orangeburg Prep will be back in action April 7 against Calhoun Academy.
Cavaliers trying to repeat as SCISA baseball champions
By C.R. Cumbee
St. Matthews—Relaxed but focused.
That’s the way Calhoun Academy baseball coach Bill Spiers learned to play under legendary Clemson manager Bill Wilhelm and that’s how he wants his Cavalier team to approach this season. The majority of the roster returned after winning the state championship last year and many of those same players were part of the football team that captured the Class AA title in the fall.
“They know they’re going to get everybody’s best shot and they’re willing to take on that challenge,” Spiers said.
Calhoun Academy is 5-3 this season and 2-1 in conference play but has yet to hit its stride. They will be tested after spring break with games against Thomas Sumter (April 5), Robert E. Lee (April 7) and Wilson Hall (April 8). The Cavaliers defeated Lee Academy in the SCISA finals a season ago.
“We’re still trying to iron things out. We have a lot of guys on the team and you always deal with finding the right chemistry. I sensed that the guys were tight this year after having won it all last year. They expected to have another good year, but we have to try to get better every day and see how it all unfolds. I like this team and I like our chances. They’re having a lot of fun,” Spiers said.
The pitching staff has been one of the strengths of the team so far, with Will Spiers, Blake Huddleston and Robert Lewis all getting plenty of work.
“I can count on all three of those guys. At any time, any one of those guys can have a dominant performance,” Spiers said.
Outfielder Kyle Gray has also gotten some starts on the hill and Ford Conger has tallied several relief appearances.
Sophomore Caleb Crosby is behind the plate with Chipper Brown (first base) and Fuller Prickett (second base) on the right side of the infield. Spiers, who leads the team with a .619 batting average, will play shortstop when not pitching while Huddleston will get work at third base.
Lewis is the team’s jack-of-all-trades, moving all over the diamond depending on who’s pitching.
“He can play outfield, infield and even handle short. He’s got good hands and good feet, and it’s huge to have a person like that because when you change pitchers or have to make a move, he’s a wild card that can go anywhere. It’s a nice luxury to have,” Spiers said.
Juniors Christopher Phillips and Lawton Wright round out the lineup in centerfield and right field, respectively, and both Elijah Ott and Maxwell Moore may get time in the outfield as well.