A year ago when Emily Heimberger verbally committed to Mississippi State, Waccamaw softball coach Scott Streiffert called his middle infielder the most talented defensive player he’d ever had.
Turned out, she was also one of the best offensive weapons, too.
The senior will make her commitment to the Bulldogs official at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday. It will be another milestone for an impressive high school career that has included a .596 batting average as a junior that set a school single-season record.
She’s been a Class AA all-state selection twice, and she’ll be considered one of the favorites as the state’s player of the year for her senior season this spring. When her final go-around with the Warriors’ begins, she’ll have already locked in her future to a Southeastern Conference team.
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Heimberger leads a list of area athletes (including seven softball players) who will fulfill verbal commitments starting on Wednesday, when the NCAA early signing period opens. It runs through Nov. 19, and athletics directors and coaches from several area schools said more could be on the way in the coming week.
The regular NCAA signing period for most sports resumes April 15. That is when two notable area baseball players – Socastee’s Dylan Thompson and Myrtle Beach’s Shane Faulk – intend to sign with Coastal Carolina.
Football’s National Signing Day is Feb. 4.
Three area girls tennis players were named to the North-South All-Star matches, to be held later this month.
Socastee’s Rachel Gresko, Myrtle Beach’s Rachel Berkey and Green Sea Floyds’ Maegan Milligan were selected as part of the six-player South squad that will take on its counterparts from the North team Nov. 22 at the Kroc Center in Greenville.
Berkey, The Sun News Toast of the Coast Player of the Year in 2013, was part of the Myrtle Beach team that won the Class AAA state title over the weekend. Berkey, playing No. 2 singles, won her match in the Seahawks’ victory over Chapin.
Milligan led the Trojans to the Class AA/A state tournament, where they lost in the first round to Academic Magnet. Gresko helped Socastee to the second round of the state playoffs in the Braves’ first year back in Class AAAA.
Three area players were named to the North-South All-Star volleyball rosters Monday.
Aynor's Katie Altman and Mariah Elms and Carvers Bay's Hannah McLean were all selected to play for the South AA/A team. They were three of the 12 seniors picked to represent the Lower State small-class roster, and among the 49 from across the state.
Altman and Elms helped lead Aynor to its first region title since 1990 and a spot in the Class AA Lower State finals, where the Blue Jackets lost to 15-time state champion Bishop England. McLean and Carvers Bay not only qualified for the playoffs, but won their first-round match.
The games will be played Nov. 20-22 at Erskine.
Hoops practice hits second week
Following last Monday’s opening of basketball practices, most teams from around the area have trimmed their varsity rosters and some have even played scrimmages against other schools.
While the first official day of the regular season is Dec. 1, there are several preseason tournaments and events to keep an eye on. The following jamborees and tournaments are among some of the events that will be taking place locally in November.
The fourth annual Bear Jam is set for next Monday and Tuesday at Carvers Bay. The 16-minute games will feature 32 boys and girls teams, including seven area girls squads and nine boys teams.
Georgetown High will play host to the Steel-Town Shootout Nov. 21-25, with games there counting toward regular-season records.
The Socastee girls program will hold its fourth annual Sand & Hoops Invitational Nov. 24-26 at the school. The eight-team tournament will include area programs St. James, Loris, Georgetown, Carolina Forest, Carvers Bay, Waccamaw and Socastee.
Full schedules and ticket information for all tournaments will be posted closer to time.
Wrestling preseason rankings
Six area programs will enter the 2014-2015 season with increased expectations.
The preseason teams rankings from SCMat.com include six local schools. Socastee, competing in its first year back at Class AAAA, is No. 8 in the division after making a run to the Class AAA state finals a year ago.
St. James (No. 6) and North Myrtle Beach (No. 19) are among the preseason top-20 in Class AAA. All three Grand Strand Class AA programs are also ranked. Aynor is No. 3, Waccamaw is one spot back at No. 4 and Loris enters the year at No. 14.
Regular-season matches can begin Dec. 1.
Around Grand Strand football
With its win Friday, Myrtle Beach moved to 10-1 on the season. It means the Seahawks have now reached the double-digit plateau in each of coach Mickey Wilson’s six seasons. Wilson is 69-12 overall. … Georgetown’s win at Airport was the team’s fifth road victory of the season. The Bulldogs are 3-2 at home and 5-1 on the road. It was also the school’s second-ever playoff victory. Georgetown is now 2-14, with both victories coming against Airport. … Carolina Forest’s victory over Conway on Friday snapped an eight-game Region VI-AAAA losing skid. The last win in region play prior to last week came in 2012, also against the Tigers.
Toast of The Coast
Nomination instructions for Toast of the Coast for fall sports have been sent out, with the deadlines for three sports following later this week.
Coaches for girls golf (Wednesday), girls golf volleyball (Thursday) and girls tennis (Friday) have until the corresponding day listed this week to submit their nominations. If you have any questions, contact Ian Guerin immediately.