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Hanks Avinger of Holly Hill Academy Pitches

Holly Hill Academy sophomore pitcher Hanks Avinger struck out 14 in a complete game shutout of Laurens Academy on Monday in the SCISA Class A Baseball State Championship series game three.

Sure, now the days are sunny and warm, just begging for some baseball to be played.

That wasn’t so much the case just about three weeks ago, when Calhoun Academy and Holly Hill Academy were both trying to play scheduled games in their respective state championship baseball series.

Rain, thunderstorms and postponements were the norm for the end of the playoffs in both SCISA best-of-three matchups, with both going the full three games.

Several other T&D Region teams had really exciting seasons on the diamond, with many of them making postseason play.

Those teams included Holly Hill Academy softball, Edisto baseball and softball, Calhoun County baseball and softball, Bamberg-Ehrhardt baseball and softball, Branchville baseball and softball, Bethune-Bowman baseball, Orangeburg Prep softball, Andrew Jackson Academy softball, Dorchester Academy baseball and softball, and Woodland baseball.

But it was the Calhoun Academy and Holly Hill Academy baseball teams that rose to the occasion and completed historic back-to-back state championship runs, with the Cavaliers taking the SCISA Class 2A trophy and the Raiders winning the SCISA Class A trophy.

It’s worth noting that both the CA program and the HHA program went through coaching changes after winning the 2015 title, making it even more impressive that each repeated as champion.

Calhoun regrouped after longtime head coach Adam Jarecki departed for Wilson Hall, turning the program over to assistant coach Bill Spiers.

Meanwhile, HHA adjusted after winning the 2015 title under the leadership of third-year skipper Michael Nelson. The 2016 season started with Ashley Brunson serving as head coach of the Raiders and Jem Mott in the position of assistant coach. Due to work schedules and demands, the two coaches switched roles and continued leading the Raiders, all the way to winning the state title series.

The two championship runs by the schools from St. Matthews and Holly Hill were similar in that they both went the full three games. But they were distinctly different in how the series played out.

CA dropped the opener at home against Hilton Head Prep in a wild pitching duel that finished with a 5-0 score. After that, the Cavaliers went to Hilton Head Island and posted a 3-2 win to even the series.

It all came down to game three at Laurence Manning Academy on a dreary afternoon that had heavy rains just miles away in the Santee area. The Cavaliers took care of business, taking a second consecutive 3-2 win just seconds before the rain reached the LMA campus.

It was only fitting that senior Will Spiers pitched in relief to pick up the save in the title game, having shouldered the loss in game one despite collecting 12 strikeouts. His father and head coach, Bill Spiers, was all smiles and understandably emotional. The same group of boys who had helped lead the Cavaliers to a state title in football in the fall had sandwiched two championships around the passing of the Spiers family patriarch, Bud Spiers, in early May.

Holly Hill Academy, meanwhile, went a different route to securing a second straight trophy. The Raiders won a semifinal series against local rival Dorchester Academy, taking all three games in adding to the suspense for fans. Then HHA won game one of the title series at home against Laurens Academy by a 3-2 score. That set up game two in Laurens, where the Raiders fell by a 6-5 score. Game three caught thunderstorm trouble for days in scheduling attempts before taking place six days after game two.

On a clear, sunny day at Hammond School in Columbia, the Raiders rode the arm of sophomore pitcher and birthday boy Hanks Avinger to a 5-0 one-hitter to take home a second consecutive state title. Much like with the Spiers sporting family, the Mott family had quite a bit to celebrate, as Jem Mott led from his head coaching position and senior catcher Hagen Mott called each pitch from behind the plate.

It was quite the memorable season on T&D Region baseball, softball diamonds. And there were quite a few standout performances.

T&D All-Area standouts in baseball include: Will Spiers (Calhoun Academy), Blake Huddleston (Calhoun Academy), Fuller Prickett (Calhoun Academy), Robert Lewis (Calhoun Academy), Caleb Crosby (Calhoun Academy), Brant Shuler (Hollly Hill Academy), Nate Bochette (Holly Hill Academy), Hagen Mott (Holly Hill Academy), Hanks Avinger (Holly Hill Academy), Wesley Ott (Holly Hill Academy), Dillon Jackson (Edisto), Jordan Rickenbaker (Edisto), Reece Davis (Edisto), Shane Hanks (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Corey Beard (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Blaze Bunch (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Robert Kirkland (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), John Connor (Branchville), Heston Thompson (Branchville), Hunter Watkins (Branchville), Andrew Isgett (Calhoun County), Josh Kitchings (Calhoun County), Noah Bearden (Calhoun County), Matthew Shultz (Calhoun County), Will Summers (Orangeburg Prep), Trent Bair (Orangeburg Prep), Trace Furtick (Orangeburg Prep), Griffin Provost-Wassell (Orangeburg Prep), Del Magaw (Orangeburg Christian Academy), Reggie Jamison (Orangeburg-Wilkinson), Satch Jefferies (Orangeburg-Wilkinson), Dre Greene (Orangeburg-Wilkinson), Chris Simmons (Orangeburg-Wilkinson), Bo Faile (Hunter-Kinard-Tyler), Localzo Hook (Hunter-Kinard-Tyler), Jacoby Jenkins (Hunter-Kinard-Tyler), Jarrett Sturkie (North), Matt Stoudemire (North), Jacob Reeves (Dorchester Academy), Lance Brownlee (Dorchester Academy), Will Wagers (Woodland), Dalton Burbage (Woodland).

T&D All-Area standouts in softball include: Alex Cave (Edisto), Lacee Seegars (Edisto), Emily Phillips (Edisto), Caitlin Mills (Edisto), Victoria Williams (Orangeburg Prep), Abby Montgomery (Orangeburg Prep), Kennerly Ann Bair (Orangeburg Prep), Rebecca Cantley (Holly Hill Academy), Ashley Crider (Holly Hill Academy), Payton Jackson (Holly Hill Academy), Sarah Becker (Holly Hill Academy), Mallory Chavis (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Hannah Wise (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Peyton Osborne (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Kaitlyn Crosby (Bamberg-Ehrhardt), Nicole Coker (Calhoun County), Abbi Helms (Calhoun County), Zailee Edwards (Calhoun County), Kimberly Bozard (Calhoun County), Destyne Paul (Branchville), Hannah Isgett (Calhoun Academy), Sarah Swatts (Calhoun Academy), Cassidy Joyner (Calhoun Academy), Sheridan Ardis (Woodland), Brianna Wilson (Woodland).

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