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Players, coaches earn baseball honors

Posted: May 11, 2017 11:50 a.m.
Updated: May 12, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

L-E’S RANDY STOKES was selected by his peers as the state’s Class 4A Baseball Coach of the Year.

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Lugoff-Elgin head baseball coach Randy Stokes was named as the state’s 4A coach of the year by a vote of the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association while a pair of Camden seniors will play in post-season all-star games.

In addition to Stokes, four Kershaw County players were selected to their respective All-State squads while 14 players and two head coaches earned all-region honors with two players earning player of the year awards.

Here is a breakdown on the honorees:

4A All-State: In his 20th year as L-E’s head coach, Stokes, a former Camden High and Coastal Carolina --- where he is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame --- standout pitcher,  led the 2017 Demons to a 20-8 record and into the district finals this past season. Before falling to Colleton County in the winners’ bracket of district tourney play, the Demons had won 13 straight games.

Joining their head coach in earning statewide honors were L-E juniors Zac Branham and Chase Roberts.

Branham, a junior right-hander, led the Demons with six mound wins in eight decisions. He worked 48.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs while fanning a team-best 51 batters. He posted a 1.15 earned run average.

At the plate, Branham overcame an early season injury to his left hand to appear in 18 games. When not pitching, he played in the infield. He batted at a team-best .467 clip with 21 hits in 45 at-bats. Included in that total were three doubles and a home run to go along with 16 RBI.

Like Branham, Roberts was employed on the mound and in the field for L-E. The junior Clemson commit batted .338 with 25 hits in 74 at-bats. Included in that total were six doubles, two triples and a home run to go along with 21 RBI, a team-high.

On the mound, the left-hander finished with a 5-1 record. He worked 31.1 innings, allowing just 10 hits and four earned runs while striking out 46 batters. His ERA was 0.88.

Both Branham and Roberts were selected to the All-Region 6-4A squad.

AAA All-State: Camden senior Devin Beckley represented the Bulldogs on the AAA squad after a season in which the right-handed pitcher finished with a 5-4 mound mark. The right-hander threw 59 innings, striking out 76 batters while allowing 16 earned runs for a 1.19 ERA.

At the plate, The Citadel signee batted a team-best .312 with 24 hits in 77 at-bats. Included in those totals were three doubles, a triple and four RBI.

AA All-State: North Central junior infielder/pitcher Cam Holley was named to the 15-player unit, marking the fifth consecutive year in which Robbie Cash’s squad was represented on the all-state unit.

Holley led the Knights with a .438 batting average. He collected 28 hits in 64 at-bats with three doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs while driving in 10 runs and scoring an NC-best 22.

As a pitcher, the right-hander posted a 2-1 record with a 1.73 ERA. In the field, Holley had a .921 fielding percentage.

Camden’s Beckley, Butler earn all-star honors: Camden High senior teammates Devin Beckley and Nick Butler will close their high school careers by playing in all-star games as part of the SCBCA All-Star Week at Lexington High School on May 22-24.

Beckley will play for the South Carolina Select North squad while Butler was named to the AAA-4A North team.

In his Camden career, Beckley finished with a 16-9 record with two saves and pitched to a 1.41 ERA. He appeared in 40 games on the mound, threw 179 innings and struck out 203 batters.

Butler, who played centerfield for the Bulldogs, overcame pre-season knee surgery to hit .299 with a team-best 23 hits in 87 at-bats. He had six doubles, a triple and a home run while driving in 13 runs and stealing five bases.

More information on the events may be found by logging onto http://www.scbca.net/all-star-weekend.html.

Five Demons earn All-Region 6-4A honors: In addition to Branham and Roberts, three other L-E players were named to the 6-4A all-conference team as selected by the five head coaches in the circuit.

Jay Lynch, a junior, finished the season with a 4-0 record on the mound. The right-hander worked 30 innings, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs. He fanned 32 batters in fashioning a 0.99 ERA. 

At the plate, Lynch hit at a .269 clip with two RBI.

Noah Rabon had a breakout first varsity campaign for the Demons. The junior infielder finished the season with a .460 batting average, second on the team behind Branham. He had 29 hits in 63 at-bats with five doubles, a triple and 12 RBI while scoring 18 runs.

Bradwin Salmond earned all-league accolades following a junior season in which he batted .382 with a team-high 34 hits in 89 at-bats. The junior centerfielder had three doubles and a triple while driving in 16 runs and scoring a team-best 24.

Used primarily out of the bullpen, the right-hander went 1-0 with a save in 18 innings of work. Salmond did not allow a run of any variety while fanning 20 and walking four batters on the season.

Camden puts five on All-Region 4-AAA team: After having led Camden to the conference title with a 7-1 league mark, 19th year Camden High head baseball coach Denny Beckley was named as the Region 4-AAA Coach of the Year.

Beckley’s son, Devin, was named as the Region 4-AAA player of the year.

Four Bulldogs, including Butler, were selected to the all-conference unit.

Joining Butler on the team were seniors William Cobb, Lindsay Pierce and Holden Bunch.

Cobb, the team’s first baseman, hits for a .295 average with 23 hits in 78 at-bats. He belted six doubles and a triple while leading the team with 17 RBI. Cobb was second on the team with a .974 fielding percentage.

Pierce was Camden’s starting second baseman while also being the defending AAA state champion in the pole vault in the spring. Pierce hit .243 with 17 hits in 70 at-bats which included five RBI and four stolen bases.

Sophomore pitcher Holden Bunch earned all-conference honors following his first varsity season. The 6-foot-6 lefty appeared in seven games with six starting assignments and finished with a 3-2 record. In 29.1 innings of work, he struck out 20 and had a 2.86 ERA.

Cash, Holley headline Knight 4-AA honorees: It is not often that a coach from a third-place team wins conference coach of the year honors but that is the scenario which played out in Region 4-AA as North Central head coach Robbie Cash was selected as coach of the year by the seven baseball coaches in the region.

In his eighth year on the job in Boonetown, the former Camden High and Wofford College pitcher led the Knights into the state tournament and to a 12-15 record.

In addition to Cash’s honor, Holley was selected as the player of the year in the circuit.

Also earning All-4AA status were seniors Keaton Gardner, Jeremiah Jenkins and Chase Stephens.

Gardner, who played primarily in center field, finished with a .310 batting average with 18 hits in 58 at-bats. He had a triple and four RBI. In the field, Gardner posted a .958 fielding average.

Jenkins, who solidified the NC infield by returning to his third base post after having missed the 2016 season, batted at a .317 clip with 19 hits in 60 at-bats which included four doubles. He led the team with 16 RBI. Jenkins had a .904 fielding percentage.

Stephens was the team’s mound ace, starting catcher who could also play any position on the field, if needed. The right-hander was 4-3 with a save on the mound for the Knights. He struck out 36 batters in 48.2 innings of work while pitching to a 4.31 ERA.

At the plate, Stephens batted .403 with 23 hits from 67 at-bats. He had two doubles to go along with a triple and a home run while driving in 10 runs. In the field, he posted a .982 fielding percentage.

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