The South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association’s 2018 preseason rankings think highly of defending state champs Northwestern and Lewisville.
Both schools were picked No. 1 to start the new season in their respective classifications. The Trojans, who beat River Bluff in the state championship last spring, were the lone local school ranked in 5A, while Lewisville, which beat Lake View to win its seventh state title, is the only local school in the 1A rankings.
Northwestern graduated eight seniors and junior pitcher John Gilreath, The Herald’s 2017 All-Area player of the year, who finished high school a semester early to enroll at the University of South Carolina. But Mitch Walters’ cupboard is still plenty loaded with college baseball signees Rob Hughes and Jordan Starkes (Furman), Wesley Sweatt (South Carolina) and Cameron Reeves (The Citadel) returning this spring.
Hughes and Reeves were All-State players in 2017, and those two combine with Sweatt to give the Trojans one of the best pitching rotations in the state for the second straight season.
Lewisville graduated All-State players Alex Reed, Trey Keels and Drew Colvin. The Lions beat Lake View in last year’s state title series; the Wild Gators are ranked No. 2 to start 2018. And Lewisville’s region rivals, McBee and Lamar, are ranked Nos. 3 and 4 in 1A.
South Pointe, which returns junior All-State pitcher Ty Good, checked in at No. 9 in 4A. The Stallions graduated standouts Bo Taylor (Winthrop, via Coastal Carolina) and Stephen Thompson (Naval Academy) to college baseball, and also have a new head coach, Bradley Rudisill.
Indian Land was also ranked in the SCBCA’s initial release, but in the 2A classification. The Warriors have played sports in the 3A classification since the start of the 2016 school year.
2018 SCBCA high school baseball state rankings
1. Northwestern; 2. T.L. Hanna; 3. River Bluff; 4. Lexington; 5. Summerville; 6. Dutch Fork; 7. Dorman; 8. Boiling Springs; 9. Blythewood; 10. Riverside and Wando (tie).
1. A.C. Flora; 2. North Augusta; 3. Eastside; 4. Chapin; 5. Hartsville; 6. Lugoff-Elgin; 7. St. James; 8. Airport; 9. South Pointe; 10. Wren and Myrtle Beach (tie).
1. Bishop England; 2. Seneca; 3. Waccamaw; 4. Gilbert; 5. Chapman; 6. Woodruff; 7. Strom Thurmond; 8. Mid Carolina; 9. Powdersville; 10. Swansea and Aynor (tie).
1. Chesnee; 2. Fox Creek; 3. Latta; 4. Abbeville; 5. Landrum; 6. St. Joseph’s; 7. Cheraw; 8. Saluda; 9. Ninety-Six; 10. Academic Magnet.
1. Lewisville; 2. Lake View; 3. McBee; 4. Lamar; 5. Green Sea-Floyds; 6. Dixie; 7. East Clarendon; 8. Ridge Spring-Monetta; 9. Branchville; 10. Whitmire.