With six returning starters and 12 lettermen back in the fold, the White Knoll baseball team has high expectations in 2010. The Timberwolves, who finished with a 2-2, third-place showing at their own Red Bank Invitational preseason tournament last weekend, begin regular season play on Friday with a Region 5-4A road date at Dutch Fork.
WK went 19-8 last season, placing fourth in the final region standings. The T-wolves went 1-2 in the district phase of the state playoffs after scoring a first-round upset of Region 8-4A champion Beaufort.
Senior catcher Austin Dunn, senior first baseman Zack Smith, junior second baseman Robbie Streett, junior shortstop Chris Harrison, senior third baseman Josh Sealy and senior outfielder Matt Tanner are the T-wolves’ veteran leaders.
Dunn, a four-year starter behind the plate and a Lander commitment, hit .333 with a .412 on-base percentage, 17 RBIs and two home runs last season. Smith, an all-region pick and a Erskine commitment, batted .369 with a .964 OPS last season, belted four home runs and posted a team high 26 RBIs. Sealy, a three-year starter and a USC-Sumter commitment, hit .359 with four home runs and 25 RBIs and led all regulars in slugging percentage (.590) and OPS (.987). Up the middle, Streett (.297, 31 runs, 15 RBIs, 6 steals) and Harrison (.268, 23 runs, 7 steals) were productive offensively and solid with the glove. Harrison was voted the Region 5-4A MVP. Tanner, another WK all-region pick in 2009, batted .360 with 24 runs scored and 20 RBIs.
A.J. Bolin, Taylor Britain, John Martin Eubanks and Mark Matthews will all see time in the outfield along with Tanner.
Harrison and seniors Eric Allen and Taylor Britain form the core of the pitching staff.
Harrison was the staff ace last season, going 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 61.1 innings of work. Allen was 5-1 with a 3.64 ERA in 17.1 innings. Britain was the other workhorse, getting eight starts and pitching 43.2 innings last season, producing a 4-3 record, a 2.73 ERA and 46 strikeouts.
Jonny Thompson, the only head coach in school history, carried a 178-92 record into his 10th season at the WK helm.