The Aynor softball team has some vindication.
More than a week after accusations of illegal equipment spurred the school to shelf its players’ personal bats, in-house compression testing on Wednesday revealed all were within regulations, according to school athletics director Doug Hinson.
“I can’t get into specifics because they’re privately owned bats, but we’re probably as legal as anyone in South Carolina,” Hinson said. “Matter of fact, I’ll put our legality of softball equipment up with anybody’s.”
The testing, conducted Wednesday, effectively ended a process that started last Monday, when the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) informed Hinson that multiple complaints were made about Aynor’s bats not being up to current compression standards. It wasn’t indicated if the allegations involved shaving, rolling or heating – three intentional methods of making bats more lively – or a fiber issue from extended use.
Regardless, the school immediately made every player on the team turn over her bat if she wished to use it again this season. Aynor purchased four bats to be used in the interim, at a cost of approximately $1,200. It also spent another $850 or so on the compression test kit. Those steps weren’t mandated by the SCHSL, but the school didn’t want “any cloud over our softball program,” as coach Tony Mills put it last week.
We don’t have to talk about that anymore. Any time we step up to the plate, whatever we do win or lose, it [won’t be an issue].
Aynor softball coach Tony Mills on his team moving forward after being accused of using illegal equipment
The testing kit arrived Wednesday, and later that afternoon, Mills told his players it was time to move on.
“We had a great practice [Wednesday],” Mills said. “We don’t have to talk about that anymore. Any time we step up to the plate, whatever we do win or lose, it [won’t be an issue]. We’ve been telling the kids, even though we lost to Dillon, if we win eight straight games, we will win the state championship again. It’s just that the road is a little different.”
That may ultimately be the biggest impact from the ordeal.
Of the Blue Jackets’ three games without their own equipment, two were losses to Region VIII-AA rival Dillon. Winning one of those two games would have given Aynor (12-2 overall) home-field advantage for throughout the Lower State tournament should it continue to win.
Now, the team is likely will take to the road for the second round of the District V bracket, and if they make it that far, the first round of the Lower State tournament. Any mental block that may have hurt the team in the two games against the Wildcats, though, is now gone.
Second-seeded Aynor is scheduled to open the playoffs at home against Timberland at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.