Heathwood Hall’s roller coaster ride of a season netted a 14-9 final record and a second-round foray into the SCISA Class 3A state playoffs.
The beginning was like Murphy's Law - anything and everything that could go wrong, did,” said first-year Highlanders coach Ashley Farr.
“Our projected starting shortstop and No. 3 pitcher transferred schools at Christmas, we had another player that might have started in the outfield dismissed from school, we had a senior decide that he did not want to play anymore and Davis Ray, our do everything guy, tore a muscle in his forearm in the second inning that he pitched in the first game. Despite this, the kids bought into our program, a couple sophomores that were going to be role players ended up starting and doing very well for us and our projected No. 5 pitcher ended up pitching over 40 innings and going 7-2 for us.
“We started out the season on the right foot, winning our first seven. Then as every team does, we hit our mid-season lull in which we lost four out of five games and gave up 30 unearned runs in that span. Since the beginning of the year, however, we preached finishing the job and these kids really stepped up and righted the ship. For all intents and purposes this year, there weren't many games that we stepped on the field as the better physical team, but these kids played their hearts out and played the game the right way and we had success. Advancing to the second round of the playoffs and winning a game against the Region 2 champions is the farthest the Heathwood baseball program has gone in recent memory. I'm extremely proud of our kids.”
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Chris Barton, Whit Hensley, Davis Ray and Melton Bristow were the Highlanders all-region players this season. Barton hit .356 with 24 runs, two triples and 11 steals. Ray led the team with a .463 batting average, and had 17 runs, 15 RBIs and a team high 14 steals. Bristow, the co-Region 2-3A player of the year did it all. He hit .373 with 21 runs, a team high 23 RBIs and 14 doubles, and went 5-3 with two saves and a glittering 1.84 ERA on the hill.
Bristow was named to the SCISA all-state team, and was joined by Ray in the SCISA North-South All-Star Game.
Ray, Bristow and Chris Leventis (.281, 12 RBIs) are the departing senior starters.
The anticipated returning starters next spring are Barton Morgan Whalen, Walker Pruett, Walker Sojourner (.250, 156 runs, 15 RBIs), Derek Kaczmarski, Thorn Cathcart and Whit Hensley, who went 7-2 with a 3.44 ERA is an unexpectedly busy season on the mound.
“Obviously losing, Melton Bristow, Davis Ray and Chris Leventis are going to hurt us,” said Farr, who was named co-region coach of the year, and work in the North-South game.
“They were the heart of our lineup and responsible for more than half of our scoring output. Melton was our stalwart on the mound and Chris gave us some quality starts as well. We won't be able to replace what those guys have meant to our program. However, we have a scrappy bunch of kids coming up that seem to prove everyone wrong, and I like that. They work hard, and if they progress as much as they did last year, they will surprise a lot of people. Pitching will be a concern, but we'll score our fare share of runs and if we get a couple of guys to step up for us on the mound, we will be just fine. “