PROSPERITY — Josh Haney and Justin Hawkins, teammates since age 8, will continue that relationship next fall for the Fire Ants of USC Sumter.
Fire Ant coach, former Newberry College skipper, Tim Medlin, said Hawkins will get a chance to compete right away for the starting shortstop position.
“With the way he swings the bat if he is not our best defensive shortstop he will be in the lineup someplace at third or first,” Medlin said as his club was getting ready to host the Eastern Division Tournament with a Junior College World Series berth on the line.
Haney projects as a pitcher for the Fire Ants and said the coaches told him there is a possibility of early playing time either as a starter or from the bullpen. He hopes to earn a starting spot.
“Josh is a player we are really excited about. He’s really come into his own the last two years and gotten better, bigger and stronger. We are excited about both of them. We look for guys like (Hawkins and Haney) to help keep us at a level like this),” Medlin said.
Assistant coach Josh Eachues, a Newberry native, also was heavily involved in recruiting the pair.
“The school just felt like home,” Haney said, “and with my best friend going with me (it was an easy decision). I liked the coach and the school reminded me of home. They knew I would come in there and compete and I liked the idea that I have a chance to come in and pitch as a freshman.”
Haney plans to major in education. Hawkins is undecided about a major but is considering business.
Hawkins shared his teammate’s sentiments that USC-S felt like home.
“There are good people there including some players I’ve known down there,” he said.
The pair shares a love of country music and both like Twitter. They like to hunt and fish when not playing sports.
They expect big things from Mid-Carolina next year after this year when they won the region and played fairly deep into the playoffs.
“MCHS is a great program that really has improved. I love playing baseball here,” Hawkins said.
Haney agreed and said he was thankful for all the coaches who helped get the pair to this point, including but not limited to MCHS skipper David Gregory.