by Aaron Garcia
The Weddington High School baseball team advanced to the 3A Western Regional after a 9-0 win over South Rowan on May 22. The Warriors improved their record to 23-6 with the win and were slated to face North Buncombe in a best-of-three series beginning May 24 to determine which team will advance to the state finals.
“It feels good. I’m proud of the kids, and it’s good for them,” said Warriors coach Travis Poole. “When there’s not a lot of teams practicing right now and you’ve still got to go out and practice, it’s not hard to get the kids (motivated).”
Sean Collins earned the win after throwing four innings of shutout ball despite “not having his best stuff,” said Poole. David Pope pitched three innings to preserve the shutout win. Jeremy Schellhorn was 3-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs, and Andrew Knight also went 3-for-3 and knocked in two runs. Daniel Calabretta was 2-for-3 with a double, and Andrew Bostic plated two RBIs with a triple.
“We played well,” said Poole. “We had quite a few hits and some big hits when we needed them. That was the big thing.”
While the three-game format of both the regional and state finals can be difficult for teams to adapt to so late in the season, the Warriors should have a leg up on the competition after the Southern Carolina 3A/4A league instituted a similar format for its conference season, meaning Weddington is accustomed to facing a team three times in one week. The Warriors were scheduled to start the series at North Buncombe on May 24 before returning to Weddington for the second game on Friday, May 25. The third game, if needed, would be played at North Buncombe.
But the biggest key to advancing to the state title series, said Poole, comes down to the basics of the game.
“It goes back to pitching and defense,” Poole said. “If you pitch it and you play good defense, you’ve got a chance. I’ve said that all along and have preached it to our kids. That’s our big thing – to make the routine plays defensively and force the other team to swing the bat.”