Thursday, March 13, 2014
Fox Creek’s baseball team is riding a wave of momentum into region play.
The Predators (4-0) wrapped up a second consecutive tournament win in the Mustang Invitational hosted by Midland Valley High School. Wesley Brown’s squad defeated Barnwell 5-0, Silver Bluff 8-7, Strom Thurmond 2-0 and Colleton County 17-3 to bring home the tournament title.
“It’s an awesome feeling, man,” Brown said. “Four years ago I took over a program that was really kind of a bottom feeder and we’ve come in here and established ourselves as one of the better teams in the area. That’s a goal I set personally and that’s a goal that our team has set. That’s what we were shooting for from the get-go and that’s a good feeling. It’s a good way to start the season and, the good thing is, we’re not playing great yet. I feel like we’ve got a lot we can work on to get better.”
The Predators used a strong pitching staff to repeat as tournament champions.
“Pitching really has done a good job,” Brown said. “Coming into this game tonight, we had given up three hits in a total of three games. I think they (Colleton County) might have had three hits or something. Holding under 10 hits in a four game tournament is a big deal. Our pitching is something we definitely thought would be our strength this year and the bats finally came alive tonight. That’s an offensive production we hadn’t done (until) tonight.”
Fox Creek had six players with multiple hits against Colleton County, which helped the Predators end the game in five innings.
“I tell you, Deondre Baskett struggled all scrimmages and everything we did,” Brown said. “He didn’t show it tonight, but the first three games he was on fire. I’m proud to see that from a guy who missed all season last year with an ACL tear. Terrance Hillary did a good job in the leadoff spot for us. Dalton Swires, my goodness, if you had 10 of him, that’s a major team. He’s a super sophomore. He always seems to come through when the game is on the line or when he needs to step up. It’s something we didn’t do a good job of last year in the playoffs, finishing games. That’s something we have really stressed in the offseason and tonight. I told the team ‘Get out there and finish, step on their throat.’ We were able to do that tonight.”
Swires, who tossed a no-hitter against Strom Thurmond, was named MVP of the Mustang Invitational and went 2-for-4 with 4 RBI in the final game.
“I came out and had a great defense behind me when I threw a no-hitter against Strom Thurmond” he said. “I had a good defense and threw strikes when I needed them and we capitalized on the errors they did make. We didn’t know who these guys (Colleton County) were, where they were from or anything about them. We knew that we needed to come out and do what we had to do to win this game.”
The Predators move into region play on Tuesday, when they travel to face North.
Senior outfielder Darshon Broadwater expects the tournament win to carry over into region play.
“To me it’s no pressure, we’re just coming here to play baseball,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who we play against, we’re gonna come out and try to win. This is just the start. I think we’re going to go into region playing well and go into the playoffs playing pretty well.”
For Brown’s team, the Mustang Invitational is already in the past.
“It definitely gives us a lot of momentum,” he said. “Early on we’ve had a little bit of the big head coming into the season. We’ve had to have a little talking to, we’ve got to keep even keeled. (This tournament) is over with when we walk out of here. Starting tomorrow we’ve got to put it behind us and move on. We’ve just got to let everything be a learning experience and put one foot forward.”
Fox Creek will travel to North in a game that was to have happened on Tuesday and will play Aiken at Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta on Wednesday. Fox Creek will then play at Williston-Elko on Friday and will play host to Ridge Spring-Monetta on Tuesday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star.