Mike Skipper savors every moment spent with his Conway softball team.
Still, spending three to four hours on a bus with his players is something he would rather not revisit. That is, unless the Tigers work their way into a deep playoff run
“We’ve made those long road trips way too often,” Skipper said earlier this season. “Hopefully we can get one of those top seeds, and not the No. 3 or No. 4 that puts us on the road. It’s a huge ordeal, because no matter where you go, you are likely looking at two hours of drive time.”
At some point this postseason, Conway will log dozens of bus miles en route to a school in the Columbia or Charleston area. But it will not come before it enjoys the comforts of home.
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This past Tuesday the club put a bow on the Region VI-5A title, doing so with a 6-4 win over rival Socastee. It continued the magical run a couple nights later, a two-run homer by eighth-grader McKynzie Krajc lifting the Tigers to a 5-4 win over Sumter.
“It’s really turned into a wave,” Skipper said. “We’re just trying to ride it for as long as we can. It feels good to see how the other half looks like.”
Conway finds itself at the No. 3 spot in this week’s area softball poll conducted by The Sun News. According to the Tigers coach, it all starts with basic fundamentals like consistent pitching and solid defense.
“We don’t beat ourselves as much as we used to,” he said. “Consistent pitching, walk as few batters as possible and be clean in the field. Those are our core philosophies.
“This team is gritty and stout, and it has certainly worked out for us.”
Fresh off helping the Tigers to a region title in basketball, Neci Hemingway has served as the ace on a solid Conway pitching staff. The junior standout is 10-1 this season, and in her lone loss gave the team an opportunity to win.
More importantly, solid pitching allowed time for Conway bats to come around. They’ve done just that during a recent six-game win streak, one in which the club is averaging better than seven runs a contest.
“We have some power on our team,” Skipper said. “We hit home runs here and there and don’t steal a lot of bases or bunt a great deal. But fundamentally, we have hit our way through and have now kind of got into a groove.”
With a region title already in the bag, don’t expect the Tigers to take their foot off the throttle.
“We have some good momentum going. Every game is important,” Skipper said.
The Sun News Top 5 Softball Poll
1. Aynor (9-1, 8-0 Region VI-3A): Sitting pretty atop Region VI-3A, the Blue Jackets need only to win one of its final two league tilts to claim an outright title.
2. St. James (11-7, 7-0 Region VII-4A): Put a bow on a Region VII-4A title with a 6-1 win over Myrtle Beach this past Tuesday night..
3. Conway (11-4, 8-1 Region VI-5A): Tigers broke glass ceiling, claiming the Region VI-5A title by virtue of its win over Socastee earlier this week.
4. Georgetown (9-5, 5-3 Region VI-3A): Bulldogs have won five of their last six games, riding the arm of pitcher Meredith Venters.
5. North Myrtle Beach (7-4, 4-3 Region VII-4A): Chiefs still in contention to pick up home game for first round of Class 4A playoffs.