Leadership lifts young Hawks

Freshman pitcher Emma Scharett is 10-1.

The Hanahan softball team has just about everything: pitching, timely hitting and clutch defense.

Everything, that is, but a senior.

"We lost five seniors from last year's team, and, as coaches, we weren't sure what to expect," coach Chris Pope said of his 18-7 Hawks who play at Barnwell on Saturday in the Class AA Lower State championship series. "We've got some young players who are new to the roster and some girls who are returning to the team after not playing last season. We don't have a senior on the team."

But 25 games later, the team has the experience it needs to challenge for a state title next year -- if not this season. The key is for the young players to remain focused.

"When we're focused, we're as good as any team in the Lower State," said Pope, who led the Hawks to the state title in 2008. "The key is to be focused and confident. We're peaking at the right time. If we stay focused, the sky is the limit."

The Hawks were so young that the team didn't have captains when the season began. But junior shortstop Ashley Cox and sophomore first baseman Allison Adams have provided the right kind of leadership to be named captains.

Freshmen Kayla Dyson and Britany Hines play second and third, respectively. Dyson and Hines have brothers who play on Hanahan's baseball team. Kyle Dyson and Bret Hines helped lead the Hawks into Saturday's lower state baseball championship series.

The softball team has 16 players on its playoff roster: Six juniors, two sophomores, four freshmen and four eighth-graders.

Emma Scharett is one of the talented freshmen. She pitched a one-hitter in Wednesday's victory over Manning to push her record to 10-1.

The young team can rival other great Hanahan teams.

"The difference with this team and the other ones is there was no established leadership at the beginning of the season," Pope said. "I think we do have a lot of potential."