Jake Wright headlined local college baseball and softball players’ 2019 performances.
The former Chester Cyclone was named the Sun Belt Conference’s newcomer of the year, after transferring to Coastal Carolina from Seminole State College (Fla.). Wright is batting .340 with 15 multi-hit games. He’s got eight home runs and 38 RBI in 52 games, and, as of Monday, led the conference in on-base percentage (.513).
It’s quite the bounce-back for Wright, a former pitcher who signed with the University of South Carolina out of high school, but redshirted his freshman year, before transferring to Seminole, a Florida junior college. The redshirt sophomore outfielder also earned a spot on the All-Conference second team.
R.J. Petit has also had a fine first year of college baseball on the South Carolina coast. The 6-foot-9 freshman pitcher from Rock Hill High was named first team All-Big South Conference this week, after earning the closer role for Charleston Southern. Petit notched five saves, producing a 2.55 ERA and striking out 47 batters, with just 18 walks, during the Big South regular season. Petit gave up just three runs during conference play and had a 23-inning scoreless pitching streak at one point.
Another freshman arm from Rock Hill, Northwestern grad Rob Hughes, also earned freshman conference recognition. The Furman pitcher was named to the Southern Conference’s All-Freshman team after throwing 42 innings this spring for the Paladins. Hughes was 4-1 with a 4.07 ERA and a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Hughes’ former high school teammate, Jeff Taylor, was a first team All-Big South selection from USC Upstate’s outfield. Taylor, the sophomore hit .372 with three home runs and 29 RBI.
Clover’s Jimmy Marcelli also earned Big South recognition, making the league’s All-Conference honorable mention team. The junior infielder .324 with five home runs and 48 RBI.
Dupree Hart is wrapping up his college career at College of Charleston in fine fashion. The senior second baseman (and 2018 CAA defensive player of the year) earned his second All-CAA honor recently, making the first team in 2019. Hart is batting .306 with 40 stolen bases, sixth-most in NCAA Division I as of March 20, 2019.
And Winthrop’s Brandon Fite is also going out with a bang. The former Nation Ford Falcon is batting .322 headed into the Big South Conference tournament.
In junior college baseball, Catcher Nick Hoffman had a solid spring at Spartanburg Methodist College, batting .305. Hoffman, from Nation Ford, led the team in sacrifice bunts, and his teammate, Joey Tepper, led the team in sacrifice flies. Tepper batted .304 with seven home runs and 38 RBI. Tepper drew 40 walks, compared to 19 strikeouts, in a team-high 51 games. The sophomore from Fort Mill High is headed to Furman this fall to join the Paladins.
USC-Sumter catcher Kaleb Strader hit .283 with four home runs this spring. The former Clover Blue Eagle signed with UNC Asheville, where he’ll play the final two years of his college career.
At Brunswick Community College (N.C.), outfielder Kolbie MacKinnon, from Fort Mill, hit .470 in his rookie season of junior college baseball. In 27 games, he knocked in 30 runs during his 100 at-bats.
In softball, Winthrop’s Blake Wallert had an all-around great spring. The senior from Clover was one of 10 Big South Conference athletes to earn the league’s 2019 Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence, given to student-athletes that finished their college careers with perfect grade point averages.
Wallert also got it done in her last college season on the diamond. She hit a career-high .309 in 43 starts, and was named to the Big South All-Tournament team.
Another former Clover Blue Eagle, Shania Domingue, battered the softball this spring, hitting .402 for USC Beaufort, with four home runs and 52 RBI. The Sand Sharks played in an NAIA regional.
Lancaster’s Jada Ames made second team All-CIAA after a strong season at Claflin University. She started 52 of 53 games, batting .295 with four home runs and 32 RBI. Ames’ Claflin teammate, Bre’Zhay Chambers, made the league’s All-Freshman team. Chambers, a rookie from Northwestern, posted an 18-9 pitching record with a 2.85 ERA. Chambers struck out 103 batters in 128 innings and her 18 wins led the conference.
Former Clover first baseman Katie Robinson batted .318 this spring, with six home runs, to help Lees-McRae win the Carolinas Conference championship and reach the Division II NCAA Tournament. Robinson is a sophomore.
Perhaps the biggest local awards snub was Darby Trull. The former Nation Ford softball standout started 54 of the 55 games she played in the Virginia Tech outfield, batting .406 with seven home runs and 37 RBI. The sophomore walked more times than she struck out and was an everyday starter for the Hokies, who reached the NCAA Tournament. Trull’s batting average dipped below .400 just once this season.
Winthrop advances in Big South baseball tourney opener
Zach Peek threw a complete game, allowing just four hits and a run as Winthrop got off to a perfect start in the Big South Conference baseball championship in Fayetteville, N.C. on Wednesday morning. The Eagles’ 4-1 win over High Point advances them to a Thursday 9 a.m. game against any of four different teams, based on the league’s tournament bracket.
Winthrop (32-21) scored in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings, more than enough offense with Peek on the mound. He struck out six and walked just one in an outing that saved Eagle pitching arms for another day.
Leadoff batter Scout McFalls went 2-for-5, while Matthew Mulkey knocked in two runs with two hits. Spencer Yankle, Hunter Lispcomb and Grant English also had two hits each.
High school softball All-State, all-star teams announced
Indian Land put three girls on the 3A All-State softball team, the local highlight from this week’s announcement of all-state teams. South Pointe placed two girls on the 4A All-State squad.
5A: Tiffany Domingue, Clover; Emma Tisdale, Fort Mill; Janelle Illacqua, Nation Ford.
4A: Kaiden Quinn, York; Kayt Houston, South Pointe; Isabella Dunn, South Pointe.
3A: Peyton Darnell, Indian Land; Daniella Wilson, Indian Land; Lexis Wilkinson, Indian Land.
2A: Amber Bass, Lewisville.
Additionally, North-South all-stars were released this week and a number of locals are included in the annual game. Darnell and Wilson both made the cut for the 3A/4A North squad, along with York’s Ally Morales. Bass, Domingue and Fort Mill’s Payton Lemire will play for the 2A/3A/5A North team