The Aynor Dixie Boys (13-14) swept undefeated through district competition this past week to earn a berth in the state tournament.
Aynor opened the district tournament with a 17-0 victory over Andrews, followed by an 8-4 victory over Green Sea Floyds. Aynor defeated Surfside Beach 14-3 in a winner’s bracket game, and held on for a 10-7 win over Surfside in the championship game.
According to Coach Chris Lawson, hitting is the team’s biggest strength. He said Aynor’s batting average for the entire tournament was .390. Also, the tournament was played on a 325-foot field that is comparable to most high school fields, and Aynor was the only team to hit a home run over the fence.
“These boys are only 13 and 14-years-old and we hit five home runs,” Lawson said.
Aynor players who blasted home runs included Andrew Brown, Grant Prosser, Gage Richardson and Drake Carroll.
“We hit the baseball from the top of the lineup to the bottom,” Lawson said. “I don’t have any weak links in the lineup. We hit the ball very well. Everyone we faced threw their best pitcher. I was shocked at how well we hit considering the pitching we faced. We beat two very good teams in Surfside and Green Sea Floyds.”
Lawson expected Aynor to do well in the tournament.
“We won the district last year and we had seven guys returning,” he said. “I didn’t want to get cocky, but in the back of my mind I felt good about our chances.”
Aynor will travel to Aiken for the state tournament beginning July 23, and Lawson believes Aynor is capable of making a run at the state title.
“We won two games in the state tournament last year and this team is better than last year,” Lawson said. “I’m not shooting for anything short of winning the state championship. We’ll be a little older this year. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win it all.”
In addition to hitting, Aynor is also blessed with an extremely deep mound corps. Lawson believes that will work to Aynor’s advantage in a tournament where the pitch count and not the number of innings pitched is used for pitchers.
“We have 11 players and 10 of them can pitch,” he said. “We have a team full of pitchers.”
The keys to doing well at state, Lawson said, include pitching well and throwing a lot of strikes, continuing to hit the ball well and playing solid defense.
The state champion will advance to the Dixie Boys World Series beginning Aug. 14 in Louisiana.
Lawson also likes his team’s camaraderie. He said most of the boys have been playing together for several years and genuinely like each other and get along well together.
Members of the team are Andrew Brown, Gage Richardson, Drake Carroll, Riley Cooper, Drew Shelley, Tanner Allen, Grant Prosser, Connor Lawson, Brady Owens, Lander Harrelson and Payton Martin.
Assisting Lawson with the coaching duties are Darrell Prosser and John Martin.