High School Sports

There’s no place like home in S.C. baseball, softball playoffs

Aynor’s Morgan Richardson (left) reaches for the tag on Dillion’s Ashley Phillips last week.
Aynor’s Morgan Richardson (left) reaches for the tag on Dillion’s Ashley Phillips last week. For The Sun News

The road to the state’s baseball and softball championships almost always starts at home.

As this year’s postseason cranks up on Thursday, a history of success feeding from the regular season is almost required to find any in the playoffs. The numbers don’t lie, and the few teams that buck the trend typically do so only in small waves.

This is nothing new, nor is it something tied only to the diamonds.

In basketball and football, home teams tend to win around 80 percent of the first-round games across the board. Last year in baseball and softball, it was similar, with home teams winning 81.3 percent of the first-round games.

That’s an even more daunting figure for road teams than 2014 presented, That year, 73 percent of the first-round games were won by home teams, and on more of a local note, 27 of the 32 teams that made their way through the district brackets and into the Lower State fields were either Nos. 1 or 2 seeds.

Last spring, home teams won 104 of the 128 games (that 81.3 percent figure). Of all the teams that qualified for either the Upper State or Lower State tournaments – 64 total teams – only six were seeded third or fourth when the postseason began.

What’s more, no South Carolina baseball or softball team that failed to finish in the top two of its respective region played for a state title in any classification.

In total, five area schools made runs to the four-team Lower State tournaments one year ago. The list included Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach, Waccamaw and Aynor baseball, as well as Aynor softball. Of those, only Aynor baseball wasn’t a No. 1 or 2 seed.

Myrtle Beach, which won a region title, lost its playoff opener before rebounding to win the district title. This time around, the Seahawks will be starting in worse position after finishing third in Region VII-AAA.

“We go into Friday against a pretty good team,” coach Tim Christy said. “… Sure, it’s a bummer, we’d like to be at home. But you’re talking about a team that went to Aiken [last year] and won two to win the district. Of course, we’d like to be at home.”

Inadvertently, Christy made a good point of the district playoffs as a whole. The double-elimination format is certainly a significant part of the overall trend. While underdogs can pull an upset here and there, doing it three times in a week rarely happens.

Of the 20 area teams that had qualified for the postseason prior to Monday – Carolina Forest softball was still able to earn a late berth after some delays – half were set to begin the playoffs at home.

That meant the other half were facing a numbers game that hasn’t stacked up in road teams’ favor.

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL FIRST-ROUND GAMES

THURSDAY

BASEBALL

CLASS AAAA

No. 4 Spring Valley at No. 1 Carolina Forest

CLASS AA

No. 4 Region VII* at No. 1 Aynor

No. 3 Andrews at No. 2 Waccamaw

No. 3 Loris at No. 2 Timberland

*Final matchup TBD late Monday

CLASS A

No. 3 Green Sea-Floyds at No. 2 East Clarendon

No. 4 Carvers Bay at No. 1 Hannah-Pamplico

SOFTBALL

CLASS AAAA

No. 3 Conway at No. 2 Summerville

CLASS AA

No. 3/4 Region VII-AA* at No. 1/2 Aynor

No. 4 Waccamaw at No. 1 Johnsonville

*Final matchup TBD late Monday

CLASS A

No. 3 Timmonsville at No. 2 Carvers Bay

No. 3 Green Sea-Floyds at No. 2 Hannah-Pamplico

FRIDAY

BASEBALL

CLASS AAA

No. 4 Lakewood at No. 1 St. James

No. 3 Marlboro County/Darlington* at No. 2 North Myrtle Beach

No. 3 Myrtle Beach at No. 2 Marlboro County/Darlington*

*Final matchup TBD late Monday

SOFTBALL

CLASS AAA

No. 4 Region VI* at No. 1 Georgetown

No. 3 Region VI* at No. 2 North Myrtle Beach

No. 3 St. James at No. 2 Region VI*

No. 4 Myrtle Beach at No. 1 Region VI*

*Final matchup TBD late Monday

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