WINNSBORO — The season has started on a high note for the Richard Winn Eagles varsity baseball team. Earlier this week, they defeated Westminster Christian Academy 10-0 in varsity baseball action and followed that with a strong showing against county rival Fairfield Central High School, winning 13-5.
The game was close in the early innings, tied at two heading into the third. Eventually, the Eagles plated a lot of runs in this one to give plenty of support to starting pitcher Austin Knox, who picked up the win.
Last year the team finished as SCISA AA Region Three runners up to Spartanburg Christian.
Coach Al Berry feels this team can also have a playoff run, like last year’s club that even won a first round playoff game. At RWA the roster is smaller than at larger high schools, so he said all but four players also pitch. The team has to do a lot of double switches when one pitcher tires because that pitcher likely will need to be replaced by a shortstop, catcher or outfielder.
The varsity team has 13 players while the jayvee has 15 but some of those players could move up and down from jayvee to varsity depending upon the situation. Berry feels the team has a good mix of young players and returning talent and that they will do well in their region again this year. The team has a new starting center fielder but the catcher and shortstop return from a year ago.
“Our pitchers are a year older, and we hope, a year better,” Berry said.
His team was hindered a bit in the early going because of rainy weather making practices get canceled. With the basketball programs doing so well this season, the gym was occupied. He feels that basketball players Patrick Pope and Cameron Cooper will become solid contributors this season, since Pope pitched well a year ago and Cameron has shown good athleticism on the basketball court.
Austin Knox looked strong against the Griffins and the chatter on the bench showed a team that was into the game and the chance to defeat a AA school.
“Our last few years we played a lot of younger guys at multiple positions. So we have a lot of versatile players with good mechanics,” Berry said.
This is his third season coaching baseball at RWA, having previously coached at Dutch Fork and at in Lancaster. He has coached in over 800 career games and said he enjoys the challenges of coaching this group of players at the SCISA level. The Eagles next play Cardinal Newman at 7 p.m. March 8.
They play a rematch with FCHS on March 14 at 6 p.m. The game will be held at Richard Winn Academy.