By Kevin Boozer Kboozer@civitasmedia.com
April 29, 2014
PROSPERITY — If you ain’t running with us, run from us.
That IYARWURFU catch phrase has motivated the Mid-Carolina High School Rebel baseball team in its first season under skipper Daniel Gregory.
Gregory said that abbreviation — which is on their warm-up shirts — is motivational and a call for players to surround themselves with the team-player types who “try to make sure if you’re on our boat you stay on it.”
“These guys have done really well with getting up for the games that seem to ‘matter’ the most. One thing we are preaching is finding that even keel approach to the game again,” he said. “Regardless of opponent or situation, we need to approach the game the same way and baseball will find a way to make everything equal out.”
Gregory has guided his team to a region championship and playoff berth, where many expected at the beginning of the year when MCHS baseball ranked in the top five in the AA.
“I feel that we have as good a chance as anybody in the state of SC of making a deep run. AA is pretty good at the top this year and it seems that all of the really good teams, as shown by regular season success, are in the upper state brackets,” Gregory said. “We’ll have to play our best baseball to be around in a couple of weeks. I fully plan on us playing our best baseball.”
Though MCHS had a three-game losing skid last week, he hopes their win over Whitmire will have the team ready to start a winning streak at the most important time of the season for a team to peak.
Gregory said the adversity his team encountered last week did not concern him much because of his players’ approach to the game.
“Last week (against Airport, Chapin and Chapman), the pitching was pretty good and we’ll give credit there but a lot of it has to with baseball luck. We are hitting the ball on the screws in a lot of situations and having the other team make plays,” he said. “Baseball has a way of playing the ultimate give and take, so a good bit of any offensive woes come from just playing the game.”
Though his pitching staff gave up a lot of runs in the late season slump, Gregory said he has confidence in what his staff can do on the mound and on the defense being played behind them.
“I’m not concerned about the runs for the most part. We obviously don’t like to lose or give up runs in that fashion but we also have to consider our competition,” Gregory said. “Those three 3A teams are pretty good and two of them will finish second in their region at that level. Those are some good sticks and good arms to try to keep quiet over a seven-inning game. We more than held our own. I was overall pleased with the fight from our guys during those games.”
Thursday night at Lindy Richardson Field, the Rebels will toe the rubber against the Landrum Cardinals.
He said the Cardinals are a solid team that matches up well with MCHS.
“I think Landrum’s strength is that they don’t have a weakness. From the little I’ve been able to gather on them, I can say that they pitch and play defense along with putting it in play. We certainly didn’t get what could be considered an easy draw in Game One,” he said.
Landrum has two good region arms to counter the Rebel pitching he said. As he scouted the team he realized they play sound, fundamental baseball on defense, something he expects from the Rebels.
MCHS has the home field advantage, something Gregory was thankful for.
“Home field advantage is very important in that we have great fan support and this will allow more of them to come out. One thing that gets overlooked some is the kids really enjoy playing in front of a home crowd with something on the line,” he said. “That will certainly be the case on Thursday. Our softball team is supposed to play Landrum at home the same night so it should be an electric atmosphere on campus here.”
Gregory said he’ll stick with his regular rotation and pitch Josh Haney on Thursday. He said his team is healthy overall and that he’ll need all available bodies as the Rebels traverse a tough bracket.
“The District that we are apart of resembles one that could be an upper state bracket. With us, Landrum, Liberty, and Ninety Six all vying to get out of the first round the competition will be good and the baseball will be top notch,” he said.
First pitch for the Cardinals-Rebels game is set for 6 p.m.