When Dupree Hart would get on base for Northwestern’s baseball team, mothers of opposing team’s players would groan from the stands.
“There goes Dupree again,” they would lament.
It was one-base, two-base, three-base, usually score. From his lead-off spot in the batting order, Hart was the jump-starter for a prolific Trojans offense.
“When Dupree’s on, it’s pretty much a given that he’s going to be on second base in two to three pitches,” said Nation Ford coach Michael Matkovich. “He stretches a walk or a single into a double or a triple. He’s really hard to slow down once he gets going.”
The 5-foot-7 junior speedster who has committed to the College of Charleston finished the spring with a .603 on-base percentage. He drew 18 walks and struck out five times all season.
Hart was a contributing factor to five of the nine starting Trojans hitting over .300 this season. Once on the base paths, his threat rippled down the Trojans’ batting order. Hitters behind saw many more fastballs because of the threat of a stolen base.
“He puts so much pressure,” said Northwestern coach Mitch Walters. “The other guys are gonna see more fastballs than breaking pitches because you’re not gonna give the catcher a chance to throw him out.”
Hart led the Trojans in batting average (.469) and walks, proof to Walters that the junior knows the strike zone.
“He’s a well-rounded hitter,” said Walters. “He has good hands, and plus speed, he’s one of our fastest guys, if not the fastest in the area.”
There was a unifying factor in all of Northwestern’s five losses, especially in the state finals against Sumter: “The games that we struggled in, at least the five that we lost, they kept Dupree off the bases,” Walters said.
While always being able to improve, the Trojans shortstop has all the tools necessary in his belt.
“He’s just an all-around player,” Walters said. “If you start with defense, he’s got great feet, great hands and a lot of mobility. He gets to a lot of balls that the average player doesn’t. Defensively, he helped our pitchers by saving hits up the middle and in the hole.”
Northwestern’s Walters and Rock Hill’s Dell Corley split Coach of the Year honors. Both coaches’ teams overachieved this year.
Many felt that Northwestern would be good, but the Trojans had been good the last several years and still not able to break through the Upper State championship and into the state finals. They did so this year, before falling to Sumter.
That Northwestern beat Rock Hill to reach the state final series was a sizable surprise too, and a credit to the job that Corley did in his first year coaching the Bearcats. Rock Hill returns all but three players from the 2014 team next year, so the Coach of the Year may be Corley’s to win again.
Player of the Year: Dupree Hart, Northwestern
Coach of the Year: Northwestern’s Mitch Walters, Rock Hill’s Dell Corley
• Dupree Hart, Northwestern, junior shortstop hit .469 with a .603 on-base percentage, one home run, 15 RBIs, and 40 runs scored. The All-State selection and two-time Region 3-4A Player of the Year struck out five times in 116 plate appearances and was 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts. Hart recently committed to play baseball at the College of Charleston.
• Josh Crump, Northwestern, senior centerfielder, who signed with Coastal Carolina, hit .389 with 36 RBIs, 11 doubles, and scored 33 runs. Crump had a .600 slugging percentage, .609 on-base percentage and struck out six times in 110 plate appearances. He was also an All-Region and All-State selection for the Trojans.
• Chase Watts, Rock Hill, senior outfielder made All-Region and All-State and was the Bearcats’ team MVP after batting .396 with a home run and 18 RBIs. Watts hit nine doubles, stole 19 bases, and made no errors this spring.
• Evan Sisk, Lewisville, junior left-handed pitcher was the Region 3-1A Player of the Year after striking out 98 batters in 68 innings, and posting a 9-2 record. Sisk has three scholarship offers already, two from Division I, and should be a force again for the Lions next season.
• Obbie Sarduy, Lewisville, senior shortstop hit .434 with eight doubles to earn All-Region and All-State honors. Sarduy has signed with Francis Marion to play baseball.
• Clay Hunt, Nation Ford, junior made All-State and All-Region after hitting .374 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Hunt, who has committed to College of Charleston, saved four games, striking out 22 in 16 1/3 innings and posting a 0.86 earned run average as a reliever.
• Brandon Fite, Nation Ford, a senior who has signed with Winthrop made All-Region thanks to a .427 batting average, three home runs and 20 RBIs. Fite also hit eight doubles and three triples for the Falcons.
• Brett Netzer, Fort Mill, senior who has shortstop signed with Charlotte batted .386 with three home runs, 22 RBIs and 10 doubles. Netzer was an All-Region pick.
• Mike Webb, Indian Land, junior catcher batted .500 (31-for-62) and was an All-Region selection. Webb also hit 7 home runs, 10 doubles and drove in 35 runs for the Warriors.
• Chris Cantrell, Indian Land, senior pitcher/infielder hit .393 with 18 RBIs to make the All-Region team. On the mound, Cantrell was 5-3 with a 1.96 earned run average. He struck out 58 batters in 57 innings and saved four games.
• Jake Dyer, Indian Land, senior pitcher was 6-1 with a 1.22 ERA. He also batted .411 with 21 RBIs, and made All-Region.
• Garrett Rast, Northwestern, senior catcher hit .395 with two home runs, 36 RBIs and a .543 slugging percentage. Rast, who has signed with Winthrop, drew a team-high 23 walks and struck out five times in 100 appearances at the plate and made All-Region.
• Colton Pagoota, Northwestern. senior utility man hit .405 for the Trojans with 19 RBIs. Pagoota struck out seven times in 88 plate appearances and made All-Region. He has signed with Spartanburg Methodist.
• Stuart Hodge, Northwestern, senior lefty starred out of the bullpen on most nights for the Trojans, going 6-0 with five saves and a 0.44 earned run average. Hodge, the team’s closer, struck out 25 batters and walked four in 31 2/3 innings.
• Jaden Savage, Fort Mill, senior centerfielder who has signed with USC Upstate hit .395 with 17 RBIs and nine doubles. Savage will play in the South Carolina Coaches All-Star game.
• Jake Wright, Chester, sophomore pitcher was the Region 3-3A Player of the Year, his third straight season on the All-Region team. Wright hit .357 with 21 RBIs and a .552 on-base percentage. On the mound he was 3-6 with a 2.23 ERA and 71 strikeout in 47 innings for the Cyclones.
• Will Reid, Rock Hill, junior pitcher made the All-Region team after posting a 5-2 record with a 1.79 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 54 innings. Reid, who knocked in 19 runs for the Bearcats, has committed to the College of Charleston.
• Barrett Courtwright, Clover, All-Region junior batted .438 and was 2-2 on the mound with a 2.41 ERA, including a no-hitter against South Pointe.
Isaac Rodgers, Rock Hill; David Wright, Chester; Trent Autry, Chester; Eric Taylor, Northwestern; Will Chitwood, Northwestern; Cole Avery, Nation Ford; Connor Green, Nation Ford; Justin Tepper, Fort Mill; Jackson Massey, Fort Mill; Nick Matchunis, Fort Mill; Avery Carter, Fort Mill; Josh Massey, South Pointe; Christian Cok, Lewisville; Davis McCarter, Clover.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T