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This summer’s numbers game

Posted: July 13, 2017 10:57 a.m.
Updated: July 14, 2017 1:00 a.m.

While in some parts of the country, summer is in its infancy, in and around Kershaw County it is that in-between time in which baseball is winding down and football begins to creep into our collective psyche.

On the baseball diamond, Kershaw County Post 17 has used a revamped, not to mention young, roster to have advanced into the second round of the state American Legion playoffs for the second time in as many seasons under head coach Tyler Pike.

This year’s squad is a fairly far cry, experience-wise, from that of a season ago when college-bound or college players such as Will Abbott, Ross Hough, Brock Robinson and Christian Flick dotted the roster. This time around, as many as six regular starters along with other team members playing for the 17ers will be back on high school baseball diamonds in the county come the spring of 2018.

The locals are scheduled to travel to face 2015 American Legion World Series champion Chapin-Newberry tonight in game three of a best-of-five series which opened on Wednesday. The winner of this pairing will advance to the state tournament which opens Saturday, July 22 at Riley Park in Sumter. Should a fourth game be necessary, it will be played Saturday afternoon at American Legion Park in Camden. Should a fifth game be needed, it will be played Sunday at the Smith Street Field at Newberry College.

Hopefully, you have taken in an American Legion game or two this season, if not there is still time to support the team not to mention the members of the James Leroy Belk Post 17 who continue to do a great job in supporting the program while providing an outlet by which young men can play baseball free of charge while honor ing those who gave so much for our freedom.

That being said … it might not be the worst idea to change the first and second round state playoff series formats into a best-of-three rather than have the possibility of playing five nine inning games in as many days.

With an 18-player roster and with the new pitch count regulations which require pitchers who throw between 61-75 pitches one night to have a mandatory three days of rest between appearances and a pitcher who throws more than 76 pitches in an outing four days’ rest, it makes the handling of a pitching staff a tricky situation. In fact, if a pitcher throws 120 pitches in a game, per the rules, he is not required more time off than one who throws 76 in a single outing.

In the final week of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, Pike has kept a close watch on how many pitches his starters throw. That is especially true for Devin Beckley, who was lifted after five frames of work in his most recent start against Georgetown last Monday which came on the heels of his working from out of the bullpen for 3.1-inning stint in what was his usual starting slot against Dalzell-Shaw in the final series of League III play one week earlier.

Most American Legion teams have three full-time starters to try and help get them through the regular season’s three-game weekday series. In the first round of the state playoffs, no series went beyond four games. You can only imagine how ugly a fifth game could be should teams have to trot out unseasoned and unproven arms and try to get multiple innings from them.

It may not be the type of game which American Legion backers and fans deserve to watch.

Speaking of numbers, it’s that bi-annual ritual of high school athletic directors throughout the Palmetto State getting more than just a little fidgety.

Sometime in early August, the South Carolina High School League is expected to release its conference realignment plan starting with the fall 2018 season.

At the most recent realignment before the present one, which came in 2016, Lugoff-Elgin had an Average Daily Membership (enrollment) of 1,614 students, making it the 43rd largest high school in the state. The most recent ADM numbers has L-E with an enrollment of 1,631 students, an increase of 17, which keeps L-E at the number 43 spot.

In the SCHSL’s last go ‘round, Camden High was the 92nd largest school in the state with 937 students. This time, CHS moved up a slot to 91st with an enrollment a 988, an increase of 51 students.

North Central High School’s ADM numbers remained the same as in 2016 with 469 students. In the 2016 realignment, NCHS was the 158th largest school in the state. This time, the numbers game has NC sitting at number 157.

As is the case in each round of realignment, rumors are flying as to what might happen and who will go in which direction and who will be paired with what schools in their region. The hot rumor which has been making the rounds in coaching circles is that 5A may be increased to the 48 largest schools from its current 42 while the other four classifications would remain in the 42-school range. Should that be the case, L-E will be drawn into the state’s largest classification. Where the Demons and Lady Demons could be headed, region-wise, is anybody’s guess. Again, however, this is hardly etched in stone.

If the rumor mill is correct, it will not affect the other two county schools as Camden would stay in class AAA while North Central would remain in the AA ranks.

Sticking with numbers, anyone who has ever attended an early season football game in South Carolina knows how hot it can be sitting in the bleachers watching the game, not to mention for the young men having to play in the game itself.

With that in mind, first-year Camden High head football coach and athletic director Brian Rimpf has pushed the starting times of his team’s first two home games of the season --- both against in-county programs --- to 8 p.m. starts. The Bulldogs will host Lugoff-Elgin on Friday, Aug. 19 before North Central comes into historic Zemp Stadium the following Friday night.

Camden’s three remaining home games will all stick with their originally scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff time.

While on the subject of football, the 42nd annual Camden Shrine Club Football Jamboree will be played on Friday, Aug. 11 at  Zemp Stadium.

The first of the three mini-games --- which includes a pair of 12-minute quarters --- will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The schedule has been tweaked from last year’s slate. 

Buford and A.C. Flora will kick things off in the opener while North Central, under first-year head coach Tyronne Drakeford, will meet Lugoff-Elgin in the middle game of the evening after having been the finale in 2016.

Camden will go back to playing the nightcap with the host Bulldogs taking on Andrew Jackson.

In addition to serving as the official start to the football season in Kershaw County, the Camden Shrine Club Football Jamboree is the largest of the many fundraising projects conducted by the Camden Shrine Club and its women’s auxiliary.

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