Conway learned a year ago that preseason baseball rankings aren’t always the best indication of how a season will finish.
Still, coach Anthony Carroll isn’t shying away from the belief that his 2013 squad should be a good one. The Tigers were ranked No. 5 in the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll, released Wednesday morning.
St. James, which won the 2011 state title, came in at No. 6 in the Class AAA while Andrews rounded out the Class AA poll at No. 10.
For Conway, this year’s preseason rankings serve as extra motivation. It was this time last year the Tigers were placed at No. 4 before struggling to a third-place finish in region play.
“It really doesn’t mean anything,” Carroll said. “We didn’t even end up in the top 10 and lost the first two in the playoffs.
“I think the expectations are always high. Our program has gotten to the point where every year we expect to be in the top 10. Hopefully, this year, we’ll be able to live up to that expectation.”
The notoriety of two big-time college signings certainly helped Conway to Wednesday’s ranking. Shortstop Jordan Gore inked with South Carolina and catcher G.K. Young signed with Coastal Carolina in November.
Young, a Class AAAA All-State selection, hit .485 with eight home runs and 30 RBI as a junior. Gore led the team with a .488 batting average and struck out only four times all season.
Carroll said it will take more than just those two, however.
“We’re going to have to have people step up for us in order to be a top 10 team,” he said. “We feel like we have some people in place who could do it. It’s just a matter of seeing it happen.”
St. James is also back in familiar territory. The Sharks came within a game of the Class AAA Lower State game a year ago and return plenty of talent this season.
That list starts with senior Anders DeShields. The College of Charleston commitment was 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA in seven appearances on the mound last season. He also batted .481 with 14 RBI and was named to the Class AAA All-State team.
Andrews, the defending Region VII-AA champions, will have to replace 2012 All-State selection Mason Brett, although the other, Patrick Ward, will be back in uniform for one more season.
The Yellow Jackets just missed a trip to the Class AA Lower State tournament last year.
Official practices for baseball across the state can begin Monday, and the first regular-season games can be played on March 4.
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.