High school title hopes heating up

Hanahan's Bret Hines throws againt Waccamaw during their regional playoff game Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at Hanahan. Paul Zoeller/Special to the Post and Courier

The Hanahan baseball team used clutch pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to beat Bishop England twice Friday night to reach the Class AA State Championship Series.

Now, the Hawks hope to use the same fundamentals, strategies and intensity when they host Gilbert in Game 1 of a best-of-three series tonight.

“Gilbert is a very good team,” Hanahan coach Brian Mitchell said. “They have some very high-profile players and solid pitching. They have a lot of quality arms. So we have to continue to do the things that got us here.”

The high school season wraps up this week with state championships in baseball, softball and soccer and boys’ individual tennis, and there’s a full schedule in the Lowcountry tonight.

Ashley Ridge, which eliminated Lexington, the state’s top Class AAAA baseball team, on Friday night, travels to Byrnes for Game 1.

In SCISA baseball, Northwood Academy hosts Pinewood in Game 1 of the Class AAA championship series, while Coastal Christian Prep hosts Laurens Academy in Class A action.

Northwood Academy is the only local softball team still standing and travels to Laurence Manning for Game 1.

In soccer, girls Lower State champions will be crowned tonight.

In Class AA, Bishop England travels to Ravenel Stadium to battle defending state champ Academic Magnet.

In Class AAAA, West Ashley travels to Mount Pleasant to play defending state champ Wando.

On Tuesday, boys Lower State champs will be crowned.

Waccamaw travels to Academic Magnet in Class AA action, while Wando travels to South Aiken in AAAA.

Tonight marks the second time in three years the Hawks play in the state baseball championship series, and most of this year’s team remembers the tough losses to Chesnee in the 2010 series.

The team has 12 players on the roster and 11 are seniors.

“This team has played in some big games before,” Mitchell said. “They have been there before, including the state championship. No doubt the games were close against Bishop England and we spent a lot of emotion. But we will be ready.”

The Indians have a strong nucleus headed by pitcher/ infielder Austin LaBounty, who will play at South Carolina. Connor Owings and Mike Morrison are pitchers/infielders who are headed to Coastal Carolina. Outfielder Jason Smith is headed to The Citadel, while pitcher Drew Moyer will matriculate to Winthrop.

LaBounty and Smith are potential draft picks in June.

But Gilbert, which eliminated No. 1 Palmetto in the Upper State, doesn’t have a monopoly on the talent.

The Hawks’ pitcher/infielder Bret Hines and pitcher/catcher Skylar Hunter, a potential draft pick in June, will play for The Citadel while pitcher Kyle Dyson is headed to Charleston Southern. Sam Bezy and Joey Bisognani will play for Anderson College. Hunter Bessinger is going to Florence Darlington Tech and sophomore Seth Lancaster has committed to USC.