Eager with anticipation, the annual Coastal Invitational in Pawleys Island is typically met with celebration worthy of the start of a new baseball season.
Such wasn’t the case with the 2017 edition, though, the hoopla normally surrounding the event instead shrouded in a cloud of sadness.
As other Coastal Invitational participants toed the first- and third-base lines ahead their respective tourney openers, the Waccamaw baseball team — and its opponent, Palmetto — were notable exceptions. In fact, no Warriors athletic events would take place on Thursday, the school postponing or canceling the day’s activities following the loss of one of their own.
Waccamaw track and field standout Jamisa Lewis was killed Wednesday evening when the 2002 Toyota she was a passenger in ran off the side of the road and overturned multiple times, according to a S.C. Highway Patrol account of the accident. She was 16 years old.
“Jamisa was a sweet and kind young lady and nothing can take away the immeasurable pain caused by the loss,” said the Waccamaw High School Athletic Booster Club in a prepared statement.
Lewis was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The driver of the vehicle — who also was wearing a seat belt — was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
Last spring, Lewis played a key role in helping the Warriors claim the Class 2A girls track and field title. At the 2016 state track meet, she finished sixth in the shot put.
According to Waccamaw baseball coach Jeff Gregory, the mood was recognizably subdued in the days following the tragic accident.
“Like every parent, when something happens the first thing you ask is, ‘Where is my child?’ ” he said. “It certainly has been a different mood on campus … it’s been very downtrodden for everyone.
“Unfortunately, things like this are going to happen. It’s very tragic, but is something you cannot avoid in life.”
Coastal Invitational teams and officials paid tribute to Lewis during a ceremony Saturday evening.
“Baseball is small in the grand scheme of things,” Gregory said. “It’s a hard lesson. Baseball is just a game, but life is totally different.
“Everyone is hurting. Our student body is very close-knit. This is a great area, great town and great community. Together we’ll make it through this.”
In an effort to help offset the financial burden associated with funeral costs, the Waccammaw High Athletic Booster Club has established a memorial fund to assist Lewis’ family. To donate, visit http://waccamawathletics.com/jamisa/.