BY DAVID SHELTON
Special to The Post and Courier
Competitive and tenacious.
Those two words best describe West Ashley senior baseball player Jonathan Sabo, a repeat selection as The Post and Courier Lowcountry player of the year.
Few players in the area could match Sabo's intensity on the diamond, something his coach felt gave him an edge in big games.
"He is one of the most competitive kids I have ever been around and he can really turn it on and raise his game to another level in the biggest situations," said West Ashley coach Mitch Miggenburg, the Lowcountry baseball coach of the year. "He always plays with a little chip on his shoulder because people say he is too small or too slow or whatever. All I know is that there is nobody I'd rather have on the mound or at the plate in a key situation than Jonathan Sabo."
Sabo, who also won the award in 2013, capped a great prep career by participating on the South Carolina Select all-star team last weekend, this after leading West Ashley to the Class AAAA Lower State finals for the first time in school history.
The four-year varsity starter was the catalyst for West Ashley's quick ascension up the AAAA ladder. This season, Sabo was 9-2 on the mound with a 1.09 earned run average, eight complete games,and 91 strikeouts in 77 innings of work.
As a hitter, Sabo hit .404, leading the team with 38 hits and driving in 19 runs.
Miggenburg says Sabo's work ethic and desire to improve daily was evident from the time he joined the West Ashley program as an eighth-grader. Sabo ended that season as a member of the varsity and never looked back.
"He worked extremely hard in the off-season to get stronger and faster," said Miggenburg. "He has improved in every area every year and has transformed himself into a very good baseball player. As a coach, it has been a lot of fun to see him develop as a total player."
Sabo says working hard served a dual purpose. As much as he wanted to become a better, faster, stronger player, he also wanted to push his teammates to achieve at a higher level.
"For me, it was about leadership and being an example," he said. "I always want to be a better player because that helps us win, but my main goal was to be leader and hopefully motivate everyone around me to work hard so that we could win. I love competing and I love winning and I just tried to make everyone else see that and feed off that."
Sabo is headed to USC Lancaster to play baseball for the next two years. He says he was recruited as the everyday shortstop and will see time in a relief role on the mound. His ultimate goal is to earn a chance to play professional baseball.
"It doesn't matter to me, pitcher or shortstop, I just want to fulfill my dream," he said. "I will do whatever is asked, just give me a chance to play. Put me out there and let me compete. That's all I want."
Sabo is joined on the All-Lowcountry first team by West Ashley teammates Taylor Oden and Tyrie Blalock.
Berkeley, which made a run to the Class AAA Lower State finals, is represented by Zach Gonzales and Kyle Garrick. Wando landed Oliver Hill and Mark Evans on the first team, while Summerville placed T.J. Hopkins and Billy Peatross. Rounding out the first team are Cody Maw of Cane Bay, Cody Smith of Goose Creek, Jason Miller of Ashley Ridge and Daniel Willcutt of James Island.
The All-Lowcountry team is assembled using all-state, all-region and all-star rosters with input from area coaches.
All-Lowcountry softball and baseball players will be honored before the Charleston RiverDogs' game July 7 at Riley Park. The ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. before the game. For more information, contact the RiverDogs' Haley Kirchner at 723-7241 or at email@example.com.