On May 16, The A.C. Flora Falcons went to Fort Mill as contenders, and came home as Class 3A baseball state champions.
Spurred by big plays from players such as Everett Eynon and Jake Lewis, the Falcons defeated Fort Mill 3-0 and 13-6 to take the title for the first time since 2007.
Coach Andy Hallett talked to The State about being king of the hill again.
How did you feel about the team you had at the start of the season?
Coming back from the Upper State final last year, we felt like we had a really good chance to compete at that level again and achieve a lot of things. We felt pretty good.
What strength did you have working in your favor?
Everyone that pitched in the playoffs in 2011 was coming back. When you pitch at that level, it makes a difference in the way the guys play, and so to have them coming back with that experience was a big plus for us.
Did you set any goals for your team for the season?
Our goals have been the same for a long time. We want to compete at a high level all season long. We work hard to pursue that and at the end of the season we always want to be in position to win that last game. That doesn’t change for us from year to year.
Who led your team, on or off the field?
Our biggest guy was States Clawson, our outfielder. He kind of took the bull by the horns. He did big things, and he was always the guy bringing energy and excitement. He led by example, and the guys did a great job of going out and following him.
At what point in the season did your feel your team was ready to compete for the title?
I was real proud of the way our guys played, especially in the districts. They got on the bus twice and handled adversity well so that we were able to be in a position to wait for our opponent to come to A.C. Flora.
Did anyone have the state championship experience in 2007, the last time the Falcons won?
There is not one guy on the team that was there (in 2007). They have all been waiting for their chance and they worked, and made opportunities to get there. And now, when it’s all said and done, these guys are going on record as being one of the best classes, one of greatest teams.
How do the AC Flora Falcons celebrate a baseball state title?
Our goal is to have one dog pile every year, just one. So at the end of that game, it makes it real special to see those kids out there celebrating the opportunities they were able to create and the victory that it brought them.
What are you most proud of about your team this season?
These kids just had a never-say-die attitude. Our kids did a great job of showing up and handling adversity when it came up. I’m extremely proud of that attitude. We had a lull in the our season where we went 1-5, and the kids could have easily thrown in the towel. But they didn’t. They recognized that we had gotten off track and they worked and hung in and were able to finish out 14-1 because of it.