The Wando High softball program has become the team to beat in Region 7-AAAA over the last few years, but the program has been unable to clear the biggest hurdle when it comes to competing for a Class AAAA state title.
Coach Steve Legette, now in his sixth season, has guided Wando to a region title in each of the last two years. Wando appears headed for a three-peat after a 4-0 start in region play this spring. Winning the region championship remains the team’s first goal but the 2013 Warriors have higher aspirations.
Wando has been eliminated from the AAAA Lower State playoffs by Summerville in each of the last two years and has yet to reach the state finals.
“Certainly, if we can continue to improve and play to our potential, we have a chance to go farther than we ever have,” said Legette, who needs six more victories this season to reach 200 for his career.
“I think we can make a run, but we have a long way to go. We’re winning games right now, but I know, and the players know, that we can play better.”
Wando is 11-2 overall, losing games to Beaufort and Ashley Ridge earlier this season. Leggette said if his team can become more consistent at the plate, it has the other ingredients to be successful at the highest level this season.
“We hit about .300 as a team and we have three or four carrying the load,” the coach said. “We have a good lineup but the consistency hasn’t been there. We beat Goose Creek, 1-0, and we did not have a hit. Then we turn around and get 12 hits against Cane Bay.”
Freshman first baseman Kayla Bannister leads the team in hitting with a .432 average. Senior second baseman Tori Frink is hitting .364 and junior catcher Brooke Gibert is at .353. Senior Emily Stafford leads the team in RBIs.
The unquestioned strength of this year’s team is senior pitcher Danica Newton. After sharing pitching duties over the last two years, Newton is the mainstay in the circle this spring.
She has a 0.59 ERA with 117 strikeouts and recently recorded her 400th career strikeout. Newton is the defending Region 7-AAAA player of the year.
“Danica will keep us in every game, we know that,” Legette said. “We sometimes rely too much on her but she is certainly capable of dominating a game for us. We need to be solid defensively behind her and score a few runs. If we do those things, she gives us a great chance to win.”
Newton is one of seven seniors on the roster.
“We’re very focused,” said Newton, who will play at Erskine College next season. “We want to be the team that does what no other team has done here. We’re a very close group, on and off the field, and we talk about it a lot. This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been playing so we’re aiming high.”