Stratford’s Tolar earns 700th career win

Stratford High’s Debra Tolar became only the second softball coach in state history to reach 700 career victories, accomplishing the feat on Tuesday night as her Knights beat Cane Bay, 4-3.

Tolar is second on the state’s career win list, trailing Crescent’s Gary Adams, who won his 900th game last spring.

Tolar became Stratford’s coach in 1989 after two years at North Charleston and a season in Georgia. She has built the program into one of the state’s most consistent AAAA powers, winning four lower state championships (1996, 2003, 2005, 2008) and guiding the program to its only state championship in 1996.

“Stratford has been a great place to coach and teach,” said Tolar. “We’ve had great support from our administration and our community, and we’ve had great girls to coach.

“When I got to 200, I thought, ‘wow’. When I reached 500, it was ‘super wow.’ I never imagined winning 700 games. It wasn’t a goal. It just happened because of the hard work of our players and coaches.”

Tolar is quick to recognize the contributions of longtime assistant and junior varsity coach Tony Smith, as well as former assistant Bobby Marion, now the head football and softball coach at West Ashley.

Two of Tolar’s former players have become successful area softball coaches as well. Summerville coach Heather Tucker and Cane Bay coach Sharon Aldred are former Stratford players.

Tuesday’s win improved Stratford to 15-5 overall and 6-0 in region 7-AAAA. Tolar was already flipping the page to the next game shortly after the milestone victory. Stratford plays Wando in a game for first-place in the standings on Wednesday.

The state lacrosse playoffs began on Tuesday night with several area teams expected to be in contention for a state title.

In the boys’ statewide bracket, Wando is the top seed in the lower state, with Academic Magnet seeded fourth and Bishop England seeded sixth. Defending state champion Fort Mill is the top seed in the upper state bracket.

Bishop England is the top seed in the girls’ lower state bracket, while Wando is seeded second. Defending state champion J.L. Mann is the top seed in the upper state bracket.

The second round of the playoffs is on Thursday with the state semifinals slated for April 21. The state championship contests will be April 25 at White Knoll High School in Lexington.

If Mother Nature cooperates, three county championships in track and field will be decided this week. Dorchester County was slated to run its event on Monday, but rain forced a postponement. Cane Bay is hosting the Berkeley County championships on Wednesday and Thursday, while West Ashley will host the Charleston County meet on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Saturday, Cane Bay will host the seventh annual Cane Bay Invitational, which will include nearly 20 teams from around the lower state.

Summerville High School left fielder Matt Powell has committed to play baseball at USC Sumter.

Powell, a 5-9, 200-pound senior, currently leads the state’s top-ranked AAAA team with a .417 batting average. He also has posted a .667 slugging percentage and a .569 on-base percentage. His two home runs is tied for the team lead, and he has 12 RBIs with 14 runs scored.

“I’m really excited that Matt is getting this opportunity, he deserves it, this is a good fit for him,” said Summerville head coach Banks Faulkner. “Matty has had a fantastic senior season and is leading our team in a number of categories including batting average. He’s a kid I’ve grown to trust, he has good makeup and works extremely hard.”

Powell becomes the fifth Summerville player to commit this season joining T.J. Hopkins (OF, South Carolina), Charlie Fessler (RHP/1B, Newberry) and left-handed pitchers Alex Hursey and Kyle Smith to Florence-Darlington Tech.