Coastal Invitational returns with local flavor – Coastal Observer
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COASTAL OBSERVER

Coastal Invitational returns with local flavor

Shaw Keogh awaits a throw in a scrimmage with St. James.

Waccamaw High School’s baseball season kicks off today with the 14th annual Coastal Invitational Baseball Tournament.

The tournament has a local feel to it this year. Five of the visiting teams will be traveling less than 50 miles to get to Warrior Field.

“It’s a good tournament. It’s hard to win and it’s a good measuring stick to see how we’re gonna be in the beginning and early in the season to see what we’re gonna look for,” Waccamaw coach Jeff  Gregory said. “We’re trying to get ourselves ready for a pretty tough region so that’s the point of our scheduling and why we do it.”

Joining Waccamaw are St. James, Myrtle Beach, Aynor, Socastee, Carolina Forest, Wando and Cheraw. 

“I think it’s a good field,” Gregory said.

Wando won last year’s tournament. It’s the first time in the CIT for Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach.

Coming into the season, St. James is ranked seventh in Class 5A, Cheraw is ranked fourth in Class 3A, and Aynor is ranked 10th in Class 3A.

“It’s a lot of good competition,” said Walker Parler, a senior at Waccamaw. “It helps us get ready for our regular season.

Waccamaw has won the tournament twice, in 2007 and 2018.

“I feel like we should be able to compete,” said Zach Saxton, a senior at Waccamaw. 

This year’s tournament will be three days because of the heavy rain Thursday. Friday and Saturday games will be five innings.

CIT schedule

Friday: St. James vs. Cheraw, 10 a.m.; Carolina Forest vs. Cheraw, noon; Carolina Forest vs. Myrtle Beach, 2 p.m.; Aynor vs. Socastee, 4 p.m.; Waccamaw vs. Wando, 6 p.m.; Wando vs. Socastee, 8 p.m.

Saturday: Myrtle Beach vs. Cheraw, 10 a.m.; Waccamaw vs. Socastee, noon; St. James vs. Carolina Forest, 2 p.m.; St. James vs. Myrtle Beach, 4 p.m.; Aynor vs. Wando, 6 p.m.; Waccamaw vs. Aynor, 8 p.m.

Sunday: consolation games, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; championship game, 2:30 p.m.

Warriors make return to playoffs a priority

Waccamaw High’s varsity baseball team is looking to bounce back after missing the playoffs in 2019 for the first time in 18 years.

“I think we were embarrassed and shocked,” Warriors coach Jeff Gregory said. “Those things happen. That’s why you play the game.”

Waccamaw finished last season tied for fourth place with Georgetown in Region VII-AAA. The Bulldogs then beat the Warriors 10-5 in a tiebreaker game in Andrews and advanced to the Lower State playoffs. It was the first time in Gregory’s 15-year tenure as coach that the Warriors missed the postseason.

“It’s a lot of motivation,” said Walker Parler, one of eight seniors on the Waccamaw squad this year. “That’s been in the back of our heads since the last out in Andrews last year.”

“It’s definitely something we keep a chip on our shoulder for,” said Will Brackett, also a Waccamaw senior. “I think it’s something we’ll use to push us forward to be able to be one of the top seeds in the playoffs.”

Waccamaw lost seven seniors from last year’s team that finished 13-11 overall and 4-7 in Region VII-AAA.

“I think we’ve got a little bit better chemistry this year,” Gregory said. “I think we’ll be competitive. I think we’ll surprise some people.”

Three of this year’s seniors – Parler, Zach Saxton and Cam Burgess – have already signed to play baseball in college. 

“We lost a lot of seniors last year and we have a lot to prove with three college signees,” said Burgess, who will play for Limestone College. “Since we’ve all played together for a very long time, we’ve all known each other since we were little … we’ve got very good chemistry. We all trust each other to do our jobs.” 

“We’re more like a family this year,” said Parler, who will play for the University of South Carolina-Lancaster. “Last year there were a lot of rivalries. This year we’re all friends and hang out outside of practice, which is a positive. We all trust each other, and we all know what we’re doing.”

LOCAL EVENTS

Meetings

Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us.

Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Howard Auditorium, Hawkins Street, Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org.

Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Virtual meetings.For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com.

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