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.
First teamDupree Hart, Josh Crump, Chase Watts, Evan Sisk, Obbie Sarduy, Clay Hunt, Brandon Fite, Brett Netzer, Mike Webb,
Second teamChris Cantrell, Jake Dyer, Garrett Rast, Colton Pagoota, Stuart Hodge, Jaden Savage, Jake Wright, Will Reid, Barrett Courtwright,
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.