Prep Talk | Competition breeds success for area playoff teams

April 25, 2013 

There's a number that hasn't been talked about much in the last couple days.

Twenty-three.

Of the 26 baseball and softball teams in The Sun News' current coverage area, 23 qualified for the playoffs, which begin Thursday and Friday around the state. Some of those 23 have better shots than others to make a deep playoff run.

However, the fact remains that getting in is the first step. This year's tally is up from last year, when seven of the 26 missed the playoffs.

I've asked coaches throughout the past couple years how much they care about the success of the area. And while they're all putting the majority of their concentration into their own product, they also recognize two things. For starters, most of the coaches actually like each other. They spend countless hours planning schedules, determining region tie-breakers, voting for all-region teams and, in some cases, work together during summer teams and projects.

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"It matters a lot. All of us baseball coaches in this area are like brothers," Conway's Anthony Carroll said this week. "I pull for [Myrtle Beach coach Tim] Christy, [Carolina Forest's Jack] Jolly, [St. James' Robbie] Centracchio, all of them. I hope they win a state championship... If we get put out, there’s no doubt I’ll be finding a game to go to. I’m going to support them. I love baseball No. 1, but No. 2, we’re together so much. Jack and I are in the same region. We’re all so tight."

Carroll when on to say he hopes that scenario - him rooting exclusively for other Grand Strand coaches - doesn't present itself any time soon. Even before today's games commence, though, the other aspect of the grouping has played out. More often than not, coaches can use it a measuring stick. If all these teams are making the state postseason tournaments, an individual coach can know his team has already been tested during the regular season.

The region teams play two or three times a year. Traveling to Florence, Columbia and Charleston on a routine basis for baseball and softball can get pricey. Instead, they play each other - quite a bit, actually.

As for those three squads that didn't make it? They'll have to take solace knowing they missed the postseason while realizing that there simply aren't enough playoff spots for everyone. Coaches have almost universally rejected plans to expand the number of teams.

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