At least two local high school baseball coaches blamed a Midlands coaching junta for Northwestern centerfielder Jordan Starkes not making All-State.
Starkes won't be robbed by The Herald. He's the 2018 All-Area baseball player of the year.
"He was one of the best pure hitters that we faced and had a difficult time trying to get him out," one of the local baseball coaches wrote in an email. "I would love to know what his on-base percentage was because it seemed like he lived on the bases."
The Furman signee beat off very stiff competition by winning the coaches' vote (narrowly). South Pointe's Ty Good, Rock Hill's R.J. Petit and several others all had worthy shouts.
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But Starkes earned the award by hitting over .400 for the third straight year and scoring 44 runs in just 28 games. Starkes, an excellent defensive outfielder with range and a good arm, was voted the Region 4-5A player of the year, thanks in part to a 1.121 on-base percentage and .407 batting average.
"He didn’t just hit singles like a typical lead-off hitter either," said the local coach. "He would hit doubles and triples in the gaps. He is very fast and was one of the best baserunners (stealing bases, taking an extra base on a ball put in play, etc.)."
Indian Land's Joey Robinson is The Herald's coach of the year.
Robinson led the Warriors to a 22-9 record, a Region 4-3A championship and a place in the 3A Upper State tournament. Indian Land won seven games in Robinson's first season, 2015, but they improved to winning records each of the last two seasons, before making an even bigger leap this spring.
Player of the year: Jordan Starkes, Northwestern
Coach of the year: Joey Robinson, Indian Land
Nolan Bolt, Indian Land - Pitt Community College signee hit .394 with 14 doubles, a home run and 26 RBI. On the mound, Bolt, the Region 4-3A player of the year and a 3A All-State pick, was 9-1 with a 0.89 ERA. He struck out 93 batters in 62 innings.
Rhett Cox, Lewisville - the 1A state player of the year hit .383 with 13 RBI and was 7-1 on the mound with 62 strikeouts in 59 innings and a 0.36 ERA. Of the 30 hits Cox allowed, 25 were singles and his lone pitching loss was in relief during an extra innings game.
Ty Good, South Pointe - junior pitcher committed to College of Charleston was named Region 3-4A player of the year and made the 4A All-State team. Good struck out 94 batters -- with just 19 walks -- in 50 innings and had a 0.82 ERA and 7-1 record.
Daniel Gueldner, Indian Land - Florence-Darlington Tech signee hit .384 with 16 RBI, 26 stolen bases and 30 walks. The senior infielder was named All-Region 4-3A and 3A All-State.
Rob Hughes, Northwestern - Furman signee made All-Region 4-5A and was named to the S.C. Select All-Star game. Hughes was 8-1 on the mound with a 1.58 ERA, 60 strikeouts and just 11 walks. He also batted .316.
Bartow Keller, Fort Mill - senior third baseman hit .442 with a home run and 16 RBI. Keller was named All-Region 4-5A.
R.J. Petit, Rock Hill - senior signed with Charleston Southern struck out 94 batters in 50 innings and had a 0.98 earned run average. Petit also hit three home runs and was named All-Region 4-5A and played in the North-South all-star game.
Jordan Starkes, Northwestern - senior outfielder signed with Furman hit .407 with 20 RBI and 44 runs and a 1.121 on-base percentage. Starkes was named Region 4-5A player of the year and had a home run and eight triples.
Wesley Sweatt, Northwestern - South Carolina signee made All-Region 4-5A and was named to the S.C. Select All-Star game. Sweatt struck out 63 batters and walked just seven en route to a 6-1 record and a 0.64 ERA in 54 innings worked.
Dreu Bodiford, South Pointe - junior catcher hit .429 with 18 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Bodiford made All-Region 3-4A and also had a .987 fielding percentage.
Bradley Bott, Nation Ford - UNC Greensboro commit hit .366 with 12 RBI and just seven strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. Bott also was 3-5 on the mound with a 3.20 ERA.
Ryan Brown, Northwestern - junior catcher hit .383 with 24 RBI and threw out 14 base-runners, making All-Region 4-5A.
Russell Noland, Lewisville - sophomore catcher hit .379 with six doubles, a home run and 14 RBI.
Cameron Reeves, Northwestern - Citadel signee played in the North-South all-star game. Reeves hit .301 this season and had a 4-1 pitching record with a 1.85 ERA.
Dylan Smoak, York - sophomore pitcher was 7-3 on the mound with a 1.98 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.
Logan Stone, Fort Mill - senior pitcher/infielder made All-Region 4-5A after hitting .315 with a home run and 21 RBI, and a 3-2 pitching record. Stone struck out 46 batters in 46 innings and had a 2.74 ERA.
Jackson Timmons, Rock Hill - USC Lancaster signee struck out 48 batters in 42 innings, had a 2.80 ERA and hit two home runs. Timmons was named All-Region 4-5A.
Justin Kerosetz, Fort Mill - All-Region 4-5A senior outfielder hit .341 with 39 hits and 21 RBI.
Jacob Wolf, Clover; J.T. Marr and Mikey Tepper, Fort Mill; Lawson Otte, Indian Land; Zack Weir, Lewisville; Tyler Causey, Andrew Pappalardo and Derek Sivec, Nation Ford; Ethan Mitchell and Drew Carroll, York.