If South Pointe baseball had any overconfidence lingering from last season, that’s been dashed this week.
The Stallions fell to both of their rivals, losing a 2-0 pitcher’s duel to Rock Hill on March 5, before a 23-3 shellacking by No. 1-ranked Northwestern Thursday night.
Eight players graduated from South Pointe’s 2017 team that reached the 4A state finals, the school’s first baseball state championship appearance. Four of the graduates are playing college baseball and the Stallions also have a new coach, Bradley Rudisill. This is not the same team from last year.
South Pointe’s games this week painted a clear picture of how much work Rudisill and the Stallions have before them in 2018. They faced 6-foot-7 Rock Hill pitcher R.J. Petit, a Charleston Southern signee, on Monday, then Trojans’ Furman signee Rob Hughes Thursday night.
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“We’re not gonna see any better pitching than what we’re gonna see this week,” said Rudisill, a Hickory, N.C. native. “So, if we can build upon that and not go into the playoffs star-struck when we do face that guy, I think that’s only gonna help us.”
South Pointe has its own “that guy” in 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior Ty Good.
He mowed down 15 Rock Hill batters in seven innings on Monday, allowing just four hits and two earned runs to the Bearcats while six scouts watched him and Petit work. Good has scholarship offers from Spartanburg Methodist, Florence-Darlington Tech and Winthrop, and interest from North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T. Clemson has emailed inquiries to Rudisill and Appalachian State is scheduled to come take a look at Good, who has added a change-up to his pitching palette.
“His ability to throw three pitches for strikes at any point in the count has made him that much better,” Rudisill said. “Before, they’re just sitting on that fastball. Now, they can’t get comfortable in the box.”
You won’t hear much out of Good’s mouth. He didn’t have to be a vocal leader last season on a team that had future college players Bo Taylor (Winthrop), Stephen Thompson (Navy) and Daniel Lipe (Coker) ready to pipe up anytime something needed to be said. With five South Pointe underclassmen playing regularly this year, Rudisill needs to hear more from his star player.
“I’m comfortable with it. I’ve just got to show people that I’m capable of being in the spotlight, show them how good I am and that I can lead the team,” Good said.
He’ll have to lead when he’s not pitching too, especially since the Stallions return none of their home runs from last season. Good, who played second base Thursday night against the Trojans, hit .357 with 25 RBI and 23 runs scored last season, and wants to put his bat on the ball more consistently.
Good said the key for last year’s surprise run in the state playoffs was, “We just had a lot of confidence in ourselves. We didn’t care who we had to face or what team it was. We just gave it our all every game and told each other that we’re gonna win, keep going.”
Can South Pointe make another playoff run? On paper, it doesn’t appear likely, and Thursday night’s performance against the formidable Trojans did nothing to challenge that position.
But if the Stallions follow Good’s prescription for last year’s success, steady improvement and the state playoffs are certainly within reach. The pitch count rules instituted last year mean the Stallions can’t ride Good on the mound more than once a week. But he can help a young group of Stallions in more ways than just slinging strikes.
“Keep my team up and just try to be a leader out here,” said Good. “I know we don’t have the players we had last year but we’re still trying to keep it going, get back to the playoffs.”