The ball is hit sharply to the left side of the infield, and Hanahan’s Seth Lancaster is set to make a play that separates him from thousands of high school shortstops around the country.
Lancaster goes deep into the hole and makes an impressive backhand stop as he falls to his knees. He gets up, fires the ball to first base to nail the runner. It’s a play that he’s made over and over again.
It’s one of the reasons why the South Carolina Gamecocks offered Lancaster a scholarship before his sophomore season.
Lancaster, a 6-2, 85-pound junior, is batting .520 for the Hawks this season.
“He’s developed. He’s solid,” Hanahan coach Brian Mitchell said. “He makes some outstanding plays in the field. I think he makes a lot of plays that others cannot. He has a strong arm and a quick release. He has good baseball skills.”
Lancaster was a starter by the end of his freshman year at Hanahan. Mitchell tried to bring him along slowly, but he had too much talent to not be in the lineup.
He was the only non-senior on Hanahan’s roster last spring and helped the Hawks post a 22-11 record and defeat rival Bishop England in the Lower State championship series. Gilbert ended the Hawks’ dream season in the state championship series. Eleven seniors graduated, but Lancaster is back for more.
Lancaster is the leader for the Hawks, whose starting lineup features eight sophomores. Lancaster knows this season might not be as fruitful as 2012, but he’s willing to help the young guys develop and mature. He feels there is enough talent to make the Hawks title contenders in 2014.
“They look up to Seth,” Mitchell said. “The thing about Seth is he leads by doing his job. Sometimes, that’s the best way to lead. He’s been in a lot of pressure situations.”
Lancaster had an impressive showing at the Diamond Prospects Camp when he was a rising sophomore. The showcase was held at USC’s baseball stadium, and Lancaster was impressed with the facility. He impressed the coaching staff and left Columbia with a scholarship offer.
“That new stadium is ridiculous,” Lancaster said. “It’s a kid’s dream to play there. Most kids who play baseball want to go to either Clemson or Carolina. I couldn’t pass up USC after they won back-to-back national championships.”
Lancaster’s father, Dean, is a Gamecocks fan. His mother, Patricia, roots for Clemson.
“I am getting her to convert,” Lancaster said. “She’s still on the border.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil