The Wando baseball team was ranked No. 6 in the state in a preseason poll by the state coaches association. Now, the Warriors get a chance to prove their ability.
Wando begins play Thursday in the International Paper Baseball Classic hosted by Georgetown High School.
“It's a tremendous honor to be in the top 10 and to be selected to play in such a prestigious tournament,” second-year coach Dirk Thomas said. “But right now, I don't know if we are worthy of it. We're young, really young. We start up to five sophomores. There's a big learning curve.”
The young Warriors have potential. They also have veteran pitcher Michael Carpin, arguably the top righty in the state who will play at Georgia next year.
Another experienced player, catcher Babe Thomas, might miss the entire season. He suffered a torn labrum (shoulder) late in the football season and had surgery.
“I hate it that he got hurt,” Thomas said of his son's injury. “He could come back as a designated hitter after spring break. He's headed to Winthrop (to play baseball) and has to get ready for that.”
Center fielder Trevor Pederson has been recovering from a broken jaw and finally returned to the lineup in Monday night's game against Colleton County.
There are two other players who have major college potential: outfielder Kep Brown and middle infielder Harrison Smith. Both are sophomores.
Brown received a scholarship offer from the University of South Carolina despite having only one at-bat with the Warriors last spring. He had a solid summer with the nationally ranked Diamond Devils travel team.
Smith should have numerous offers by the time graduation day rolls around. He also excelled as a Diamond Devil.
“Harrison puts too much pressure on himself,” Thomas said. “Once he lets his talent and ability take over, look out. Kep has the body type to play in the SEC. He hits, runs well and throws well. But he also puts too much pressure on himself. Anytime you have a college looking at you, you have the ability. You just have to make it happen.”
The top seniors in SCISA will play their counterparts from Georgia in all-star basketball games Saturday at Heathwood Hall.
Local players named to the girls' SCISA Class AA-A team include Jenna O'Dell, St. John's Christian Academy; Tayler Barcomb, Dorchester Academy; Lori Guerard and Rebecca Duggan, James Island Christian.
Local players named to the boys' SCISA Class AA-A team include Mike Lewis, St. John's Christian Academy; Josh Nelson, Faith Christian; Daniel Fralix, Dorchester Academy; Khalil Davis, Charleston Collegiate; and Gabe Hogan, Palmetto Christian.
Brian Stanley of Palmetto Christian will coach the boys' team.
Local players selected to the girls' Class AAA teams include Raygon Hendrix, Bri Boyd, Jennifer Rhodes, Maria Corella and Katelyn Dambaugh of Pinewood Prep.
Nancy Beatty of Pinewood Prep will coach the girls' team.
Local boys named to the Class AAA team include Ryan Felder, Pinewood Prep; and Bradford Allen, First Baptist.
Loy headed to Navy
Bishop England two-sports star Griffie Loy has received his nomination and appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.
He will compete in track and field for the Midshipmen.
He played fullback and defensive end for the Bishops' football team and helped them win two straight Division II-AA state football championships.
He rushed for 642 yards and scored 11 TDs as a senior while recording 77 tackles, including 28 for a loss. He had eight sacks.
Last spring, he won state championships in the discus and shot put. His throw of 54 feet 1/2 inch was best in the state, regardless of classification.
Last weekend, he opened the 2013 season by putting the shot 58-3 to win the Sandlapper Track and Field Classic. He also claimed gold in the discus.
The Porter-Gaud boys won the fifth annual Trojan Invitational, a boys soccer preseason tournament hosted by James Island.
The field also included Summerville and Waccamaw.
The all-tournament team included George Grice, Aiden Hekker, Cameron Ward and Corey Umstead, Porter-Gaud; Bailey Shelbourne, Brandon Cook, Ryan West, Summerville; Noah Gulley and Parker Williams, Waccamaw; and Ian Dudderar and Brad Franklin, James Island.