Camden High’s baseball team is coming off a magical season that saw Denny Beckley’s Bulldogs win the Region 6-3A pennant before going on a glorious run in the Class 3A state playoffs.
The Bulldogs won district and Lower State titles, and then took Belton-Honea Path to the limit before falling to the Bears in the best-of-three state championship series and finishing with a 23-9 record.
This year, things are have not been going well. The Bulldogs, who lost six starters to graduation, are off to a 0-4 start entering Saturday’s scheduled game at Socastee. Poor defensive play is at the core of the slow start.
Camden opens region play Tuesday at home against Crestwood.
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The return of pitchers Andrew Ansley and Kris Nelson provide a solid foundation. Ansley was 8-0 with a 2.16 ERA last season as the No. 2 man in the rotation behind Pike. Nelson rang up a 5-2 record and worked in 40 innings as the No. 3 man.
Ansley and Nelson will also be key in the field when not pitching. Ansley, who will play at first base and bat third in the order, hit .327 with 17 RBIs last season. Nelson, who will work at shortstop and third base, batted .378 a year ago with 29 runs scored and 19 RBIs.
The only other returning regulars are outfielders Alvonta Jenkins, DaVonte’ Hayes and Brandon Kersey. Jenkins, who has yet to play in the wake of knee surgery, hit .381 with 18 runs, 18 RBIs and three home runs last season, while Hayes hit .383 with an eye-opening 1.056 OPS in 47 at bats. Kersey hit .387 with 20 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
The newcomers in the lineup include senior Ryan Brazell at catcher, senior Ben Kelly at a variety of infield positions, junior Dillon Morrow at shortstop and junior Kal Davis at second or third base.