When the baseball playoffs roll around, most high school coaches say postseason success boils down to pitching and defense.
Pinewood Prep coach Phil Tobin concurs. He should know — his team won the SCISA Class AAA state championship a year ago.
“This is a different team than last year,” Tobin said. “Maybe we do benefit some because of our experience, but it comes down to the basics. If we go out and make the plays we're capable of, and throw strikes like we're capable of, we'll be all right.”
That wasn't the case at the beginning of the season. The Panthers made 10 errors in a doubleheader loss to Wilson Hall in their season opener. They struggled at times in the ultra-competitive Hanahan Invitational Tournament. Then they reeled off five straight victories. But Pinewood dropped the regular season finale to Northwood Academy, a team they beat 17-3 in mid-March.
“We knew our record wouldn't be gaudy because of the schedule I put together,” said Tobin, whose team is 13-7. “But it was geared to getting us ready for the playoffs. Once again, it was just a matter of making the plays and throwing the strikes.”
The Panthers should be even stronger in the playoffs with the return of J.D. Waite, who suffered an Achilles' tendon injury in the preseason and missed most of the regular season. He's pitched in three games and is now in midseason form as the team's No. 1 pitcher and No. 4 hitter.
“He's pitched in so many big games for us,” Tobin said. “He just has so much confidence on the mound and the players behind him play more relaxed because he's in control. That's the key in the playoffs, to be relaxed. He just doesn't get flustered.”
Pinewood Prep is seeking its third state title since 2009.
Port City signings
Two basketball players from the Port City Sports Academy signed to play college basketball.
D'Quann Grant, who played at Hanahan, signed with USC Salkehatchie. Khalil Stewart, from Durham, N.C., signed with Brunswick Community College in North Carolina.
The Post and Courier will publish baseball statistics Friday on the PrepZone Page. Coaches are asked to provide leaders in all offensive and pitching categories. Stats should be submitted by noon Thursday. Email stats to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil.