Spotlight: Blythewood baseball

ainelson@thestate.comApril 17, 2013 

Blythewood baseball coach Barry Mizzell could not ask for much more.

His teams consistently have been among the best in Class 4A.

The Bengals have a region winning streak that spans three seasons.

And this season, with hardnosed pitching and staunch defense, they have posted a 19-3 record, stringing together 14 wins heading into Wednesday’s contest against Brookland-Cayce.

The Bengals are well-equipped for what comes next.

“They have a drive and a focus that have really kept us going,” Mizzell said. “We’ve had a good year till now.”

Mizzell and seniors Andrew Beckwith and Thomas Bessinger said leadership from a class of 10 seniors has been a major factor in their trail of success.

Beckwith, a pitcher and second baseman, said, “Our senior class has been a big part of this year and our accomplishments. We’ve really come together this year, and been able to pull out some big wins.”

“We’ve had good leadership the past couple of years, and we just learned from other guys and continued it into this year, and we’ve got some experience on top of that,” said Bessinger, the shortstop.

Mizzell said that is what he has come to expect from the Bengals. Blythewood won 20 games or more each of the past two seasons, and so the Bengals have maintained a high standard.

“We’ve always had a good solid senior class that kind of set the standard,” Mizzell said. “(The seniors) kind of set a high standard, and when they get in our program, if they want to play, they have to work hard to reach that.”

That internal competition is another major factor in Blythewood’s success.

“There’s a lot of confidence and a lot of competition. The competition has been there all year, and it’s helping everybody to get better,” Beckwith said.

The Bengals’ leading hitter is a junior, Tyler Romanik, but most of the team is batting near .300.

With solid offense and consistently stingy defense, the Bengals won their S.C. Diamond Invitational earlier this month, and nearly have wrapped up the region championship.

While the Bengals are not dwelling on their past accomplishments, they also are not looking too far into the future.

“I know it’s cliché, but we really do take it one game at a time,” Mizzell said.

So although winning districts is possible and winning the Class 4A title would be amazing, the Bengals are focusing on playing their best this Friday.

They face Ridge View on the road in the regular-season finale.

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