Irmo’s baseball season in 2010 was marked by tragedy and bad luck, bit the Yellow Jackets persevered, finished with a 7-7 record in tough Region 5-4A and make the state playoff cut.
The death of sophomore Michael Lassiter was a devastating blow to the program, but the Yellow Jackets came together in the wake of the tragedy.
“Michael’s death was a heavy loss, but all three of our teams continued to stay focused,” said coach Ray Canady.
“Our players had to grow up a lot this year and the loss of Michael brought our team closer together. We also lost projected starting pitcher Lance Hayes to injury before the season started., but several guys benefited from the opportunity and we had five different pitchers earn a win during the year. We were very competitive and lost several games by two runs or less.”
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Graduation claims six starters, including catchers Dillon Gaines, second baseman/pitcher Tony Ford (4-4, 2.53 ERA, 40 K's, 11 BB's), third baseman Taylor Boyd (.309, 5 HR, 20 RBIs), outfielders Stephen Dowling, Cullen Dalton and Jon Curtis (.321).
Gaines and Ford were voted to the Region 5-4A all-star team, and Ford will play in the annual North-South All-Star game. Gaines and Boyd will play next year at USC Sumter, Ford is headed to Florence-Darlington Tech and Dowling is off to Erskin.
The heavy hit means the Yellow Jackets will be in rebuilding mode in 2011.
“We do lose a lot, but we also had a lot of guys get experience and playing time this year,” said Canady.
“We will return three of our top bats in 2011, and we have a strong sophomore class that will be coming up to challenge for starting spots. We will have experienced arms on the mound next year, but we’ll be looking for someone to step up and be our No. 1 guy.” The top returning hands include pitcher Jordan Garnett, catcher-DH Robbie Morris (.357, 5 HR), first baseman Hiller Huggins (.299, 2 HR) and shortstop Cord Love.