Four local teams are just a win away from reaching the state championship in baseball or softball.
Lewisville could have its softball and baseball teams competing for state titles by the end of the week, while South Pointe and Northwestern will know Wednesday night whether the baseball teams will be playing for championships.
Lewisville baseball can return to the 1A state title series for the first time since losing in three games to Latta in 2015. Billy Keels led the Lions to a championship in 2010, the school’s sixth. Leaning on a deep pitching staff, especially for the 1A level, the Lions (20-3) have lost only to South Pointe (twice) and Indian Land this season. They’ve knocked off region rivals Lamar and McBee (defending state champs) so far in the Upper State tournament and will face McBee at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in Richburg. The Panthers would have to beat Lewisville twice to end the Lions’ season.
Northwestern (27-4) also can return to the state championship series, in what will be the first 5A title in the state’s history.
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Mitch Walters’ club also has flexed superior pitching muscle all year, with college commits John Gilreath (South Carolina), Wesley Sweatt (South Carolina), Cameron Reeves (South Carolina) and Rob Hughes (Furman) producing commanding performances on the mound at various points. Gilreath is 10-0, while Hughes is 8-1 and Sweatt has five saves, including two in the state playoffs.
The offense has been solid too, with leadoff hitter Jordan Starkes and Andrew Shipman, Will Hagood, Will Gardiner, Davis Goodyear, Brandon Ashley and Jeff Taylor - in addition to Hughes and Reeves - knocking in the runs.
The Trojans have allowed more than one run just once during the postseason - a 2-1 loss to J.L Mann - and shutout their last two opponents, Boiling Springs and Westside. After eliminating Westside Tuesday, Boiling Springs will get another shot at the Trojans on Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m.
Two teams looking to make their initial breakthrough, South Pointe baseball and Lewisville softball, also are just seven innings away. South Pointe plays Wednesday, while Lewisville softball doesn’t play until Friday.
The Stallions face either North Augusta or Greenville at home at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, needing one win to reach the 4A championship series. The school has never played in a baseball state final and has only two other winning seasons in its 10 years of baseball history.
In the athletics realm, South Pointe has long been considered a football school and for good reason. But Joel Taylor’s baseball team is trying to shift the reputation a bit, thanks in part to a 10-game unbeaten streak. The Stallions (24-7) haven’t lost since the Wheels Baseball Invitational over Spring Break, and Taylor’s team is getting contributions from up and down the lineup card. The two college-bound players - Stephen Thompson (Navy) and Bo Taylor (Coastal Carolina) - have upheld their reputations, batting .375 and .386, respectively. Thompson has 33 RBI and Taylor has stolen 15 bases after returning from hand surgery earlier in the spring.
Daniel Lipe (19 RBI, three saves), Trey Prince and Spencer Bala - Region 3-4A pitcher of the year - have excelled on the mound, with Bala giving the team a powerful bat in key moments. Ty Good (24 RBI, 1.51 ERA), Dez Good, Jake Kurn and Austin Breeden have all taken turns contributing.
And Jerry Thomas' Lewisville softball team, which hasn't surrendered a run in the playoffs, a fact pointed out Monday by the Chester News and Reporter's Travis Jenkins, is on the cusp of reaching the state finals for the first time in school history. The Lions (23-2) have played in five straight Upper State tournaments only to fall short each time. On Friday they’ll face the winner of Lamar-Dixie.
Chloe Thomas is spearheading Lewisville’s effort with her arm and bat. She’s 17-2 on the mound with a 1.21 ERA and 120 strikeouts (to just 14 walks), and is batting .583 with two home runs and 37 RBI. Seven other players – Amber Bass, Emily Morton (32 RBI), Tori Ernandez (31 RBI), Abby Thomas, Payton Wishert, Alexis Odum and Codi Horne – all bat over .400.
Indian Land girls’ soccer advances to 3A title game
Indian Land blanked Pendleton 5-0 Monday night to advance to the 3A girls’ soccer state title game on Saturday at Irmo High School. The Warriors led 3-0 at the break after a pair of goals by Kelsey Long and a third from Shelby Ryberg two minutes before the break. Reagan Hunter added two more in the second half, icing on the Upper State championship cake. Emma Thompson got the shutout between the sticks for Indian Land.
Mark Bonda’s Warriors (18-5-1) will face Brookland-Cayce in the title match. It’s a rematch of the two teams’ earlier meeting this season, won 3-0 by Brookland-Cayce. Bonda said his team was missing starting players in that contest.