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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Vic Radcliff’s Jackets have been on a hot streak.
North Augusta High School’s baseball team has turned its season around after knocking off Fox Creek. The Jackets (7-6, 2-4 Region 5-AAAA) picked up their first two region wins of the year. The team is currently in do-or-die mode after spotting its region opponents a four game lead in the standings.
The Jackets started their week by beating White Knoll, 5-2, at home. They went on to beat Lakeside, 10-0, and region rival South Aiken, 3-1. Though the team lost in an exhibition matchup with St. Rita (Ill.), 8-3, on Saturday, the team is trending upward with the recent morale boost.
“I feel like this week was a good week for the program, because we turned things around,” Radcliff said. “We were having a down period there where kids were doubting their abilities and since the Fox Creek game we started seeing some life. That brought a spark to us, and we fed off that leading into this week. It was good to see that in the region games against White Knoll and South Aiken, and to see them respond that way. We’ve seen certain things leading into the season to feel positive about. It was disappointing to see some of the things that were taking place at the time. I told them that adversity isn’t a time where you tuck your tail and feel sorry for yourself.”
The team’s sparkplug, Bryson Conner, who plays shortstop and hits leadoff, said that he and his teammates know they have to win every region game from here on out.
“We don’t want to be the first team not to make the playoffs,” he said. “I think it has been something like 20 years.”
Conner also said with spring break the team will be split up. Some players will be on vacation, others will work at The Masters, but he’s hopeful that there will be a core of players who can get some extra work in during the break.
“The ones that can get here are going to get here and we’re going to work to get ready for next week,” he said.
Against St. Rita, Radcliff said he noticed that a lot of his hitters’ approaches were a bit off from talking with the Mustangs’ head coach. The Chicago-based school was spending its spring break in the area and scheduled North Augusta in addition to South Aiken.
“We have to work on hitting the ball to the opposite side instead of pulling everything,” he said. “Our offense pulls a lot of balls foul. I remember when I was in college I was strictly a pull hitter. I had some people who really worked with me about going opposite field. You have to learn to hit between gap-to-gap and learn bat control. It takes work and doesn’t just happen over night.”
Coming up the Jackets will play at Gilbert on Saturday at 9 a.m. They will follow that up with a game against Strom Thurmond at Pelion High School on Monday at 6 p.m. They will wrap up their tournament against Brookland-Cayce at Gilbert at 6:30 p.m. in a game scheduled for Tuesday.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.