Tuesday, March 4, 2014
For the first time in its eight-year history, the Coastal Invitational Baseball Tournament is featuring Class AAAA.
The tournament kicks off Thursday at Waccamaw High School, and newcomers South Florence and Greenwood out of AAAA should be the favorites, according to Warriors head coach Jeff Gregory.
“They’re stronger because they’re bigger,” Gregory said.
The other teams in the tournament are St. James, North Myrtle Beach and Broome from Class AAA, and Pelion and Cheraw from Class AA.
During the first five years of the tournament, only Class A and AA schools participated. Class AAA schools joined in year six.
“We’ve grown the field every year,” Gregory said. Having Class AAA schools is “a big jump for us.”
Gregory switched the tournament to wooden bats in 2009.
“It helps attract a few more scouts,” he said. “You don’t get too many of those [tournaments] in high schools.”
More than two dozen scouts were in the stands for the tournament two years ago. Gregory hopes some of the scouts who are in town for the IP Classic in Georgetown, which also takes places this weekend, will stop by Waccamaw.
“Hopefully one of our kids will get noticed,” he said.
Waccamaw finished 19-10 in 2013, ranked No. 10 in Class AA in the state, and won Region VIII with an 8-2 record.
The Warriors begin the 2014 campaign ranked No. 6 in Class AA.
“It’s a tribute to last year’s squad and previous squads,” Gregory said.
The Warriors are joined in the top 10 by some familiar region foes: Loris at No. 5, Dillon at No.7 and Aynor at No. 9.
Waccamaw players to watch this weekend include:
Justin Colegrove, a 2013 All-State and All-Region selection, and J.C. Tolson and Curtis Lawing, both 2013 All-Region selections.
Weather has been wreaking havoc with practice schedules, and Gregory said his team is not as prepared going into the season as previous Waccamaw teams have been.
“We’re going to be playing catch-up all year,” he added.
The Warriors won the inaugural Coastal Invitational in 2007, and are looking for a second title this year.
“We’ve got to play perfect,” Gregory said. “It’s a true test for us to see where we’re at.”
Rest of the field
St. James: The Sharks were 20-8 in last season, and won their fourth straight Region VII-AAA title. Players to watch are: All-Region selections Skylar Hayes, Trent Revis, Dillon Leduc and Brock Gallagher.
Cheraw: The Braves were 17-7 last season. Players to watch are: Jordan Melton, Dylan Driggers and Tristen Campbell.
Pelion: The Panthers were 15-10 last season and won Region III-AA. Players to watch are: Zach Hawkins, All-State and All-Region selection, and Tyler Poole and Daniel Hawkins, both All-Region selections.
Greenwood: The Eagles were 14-9 last season and won a second straight Region I-AAAA title. Players to watch include: Mathew Bridges, Gatlin Minick, Jonathan Wright and Rusty Hughes.
North Myrtle Beach: The Chiefs were 13-14 last season. Players to watch are: Billy Pippin and Dillon Bowie, both 2013 All-Region VIII-AAA selections, and Kyle Cooper.
South Florence: The Bruins were 9-13 last season. Players to watch are: Steven Calcutt, Patrick Lovelace and Lindsey Robinson.
Broome: The Centurions were 9-13 last season. Players to watch are: Brooks Richardson, David Burress and Jacob Marcengill.
Thursday: Waccamaw vs. Pelion, 2:45 p.m.; Cheraw vs. St. James, 5 p.m.; South Florence vs. North Myrtle Beach, 7:15 p.m.; Greenwood vs. Broome, 9:30 p.m.
Friday: Cheraw vs. Broome, 1 p.m.; North Myrtle Beach vs. Pelion, 3:15 p.m.; Waccamaw vs. South Florence, 5:30 p.m.; Greenwood vs. St. James, 7:45 p.m.
Saturday: South Florence vs. Pelion, 10 a.m.; Greenwood vs. Cheraw, 12:30 p.m.; St. James vs. Broome, 3 p.m.; opening ceremonies and home run derby, 5:30 p.m.; Waccamaw vs. North Myrtle Beach, 7 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., TBA; 12:30 p.m., TBA; 2:30 p.m., Waccamaw vs. TBA.
You can follow the Waccamaw baseball team on Twitter at @WHSbaseballPI. Get updates on the Coastal Invitational at www.waccamawathletics.com/coastal-invitational.