Orangeburg Prep baseball much improved this spring
By C.R. Cumbee
Orangeburg—It was a difficult season in 2016 for the Orangeburg Prep baseball team. With very few seniors, the Indians only managed to win three games.
This year, Orangeburg Prep has already matched that total. The team is currently 3-3 overall after victories over Northwood Academy (twice) and Heathwood Hall.
“Last year we were so young. We started two eighth-graders, five ninth-graders, a sophomore and a couple of juniors,” head coach Al Hay said. “The core of our team is still fairly young, but I anticipated us being much better than last year. We’re just physically stronger this year and we’ve hit the ball better than we did all of last year. We’ve got a very tough league with Wilson Hall and Laurence Manning, but we’re battling to try to assure ourselves of a playoff spot.”
With all the positives, the Indians have still suffered a couple of setbacks. Two starters – second baseman Corey Collins and centerfielder Will Summers – have each gone down with injuries. Collins suffered a broken hand but may be back in three to four weeks while Summers might not make it back until the playoffs with a fractured ankle.
Senior Trent Bair moved from left to center after the injury and is batting over .500 for the year.
“He’s really had a hot hand to start the season. He’s seeing the ball well,” Hay said.
Also handling the bat well has been pitcher/shortstop Trace Furtick (.375 average) and third baseman Sam Montgomery (.350).
Joining them in the lineup is catcher Andrew Brickle, second baseman Griffin Provost-Wassell, shortstop Nick Pascoe and right fielder Evan Bair.
Brett Lovern and Wesley Wells are battling for time at first base while Huntley Wolfe and Collin Bair have each seen action in left field. Outfielder Grant Axson is the only other player on the roster.
Pitching will be the key for Orangeburg Prep down the stretch. Furtick is the ace of the staff while Provost-Wassell, who got a late start after basketball season, develops in the No. 2 spot in the rotation. Pascoe will be used in a setup role, and Montgomery and Brickle could also log some innings in relief.
The Indians continue the regular season March 9 at home against Thomas Sumter before traveling to Calhoun Academy the following day.
Lady Cavaliers make first finals appearance in 21 years
By C.R. Cumbee
St. Matthews—It was a season to remember for the Calhoun Academy girls’ basketball team. The Lady Cavaliers made it to the state semifinals two years ago, but advanced to the SCISA Class A championship game this February for the first time since 1996.
Head coach Wendy Walker, who was in her third season in charge of the program, guided Calhoun Academy to a 25-5 record. Unfortunately, three of those defeats came to Thomas Sumter Academy, who edged the Lady Cavaliers, 40-33, in the finals.
“That was always our goal. From day one, we wanted to get to the finals. That was a high goal to set, but my girls had that drive, ambition, heart and want-to,” Walker said. “When we’re down, that doesn’t matter. They don’t get down on themselves.”
With the season coming to a close, Calhoun Academy will bid farewell to four seniors, including three starters. Sarah Swatts led the way with 14 points per game while Kendall Fleming was right behind with 12. Point guard Erin Roland also had a huge impact. Paige Steadman was one of the reserves.
“She’s a tough cookie at point guard,” Walker said of Roland. “You can slap at her, roll her over, whatever, she’s going to come right back. She doesn’t get frazzled. Without her, we wouldn’t be where we’re at.
“Kendall came out hot for us with three-pointers. She was very valuable for us because we had established an inside game. She was amazing on the outside and that helped us tremendously.”
Although there will be big shoes to fill, the Lady Cavaliers still have some talent returning in 2017-18. Forwards Anna Banks Turbeville and Kristen Cherry are the returning starters, and they have the size and aggressiveness to be factors in the paint.
Other players that will be back include juniors Charlotte Williams, Mary Edmunds, Cameron Hollingsworth and Zoe Parilla. Walker also expects a couple of jayvee players to compete for starting positions next season.
“We’re going to have to regroup. The strategy next year will have to be a little different than this year. My girls know that we always preach fundamentals and defense,” Walker said.