Jason Cox has been bouncing back and forth between his school’s baseball and softball teams since April 25, watching the downright ridiculous take shape over and over.
And now the Green Sea Floyds athletics director is seeing the byproduct of it.
“Winning builds confidence,” said Cox, who is in his final weeks with the Trojans before he takes over the same job at Conway. “What the kids are doing in the weight room has helped our confidence. And the wins, the postseason experiences that we’ve had, has helped build our school spirit.”
“Postseason experiences” is Cox’s diplomatic way of saying that his teams are straight up mashing.
Since the start of the playoffs — that aforementioned date for baseball and two days later for softball — Green Sea Floyds’ two diamond programs have been putting up run totals that are typically few and far between.
At the very least, they are usually seen only in the earliest parts of the playoffs. Not for the Trojans.
Derek Martin’s baseball program has played four postseason games. There were 14-0 and 17-1 wins over Palmetto Scholars in the district tournament, followed by a 20-0 win over Charleston Math & Science in the lower state tournament opener and an 11-7 win Saturday over Branchville to advance to the lower state finals (which will be played Wednesday at Green Sea Floyds).
Henry Martin’s softball team’s scores are even slightly more absurd.
It had a 17-1 win over Charleston Math & Science and a 21-0 victory against Cross to win the district tournament, chased by a 23-0 win over Palmetto Scholars to kick off the lower state tourney.
“You want to say it’s coming together at the right time when you start hitting the ball like that,” Henry Martin said. “You’re finally start to swing at the right pitches. The last couple games, we’ve gotten productivity from one through nine. Hopefully they all see that they can do it.”
Aside from Saturday’s baseball’s win at Branchville, what opponents are seeing is an overwhelming show of force.
The Trojans softball team is averaging 20.3 runs per game, while baseball is dropping 15.5. Those figures, though, aren’t really accurate.
Six of the seven games between the two sports have been called early, including four that went final after 2.5 or three innings. Baseball’s four playoff games have lasted a total of 17.5 innings. Softball’s three games have needed just 10.5.
That’s 5.8 runs per inning for softball, 3.5 runs per inning for baseball.
A really good baseball team may average 1.2 runs per inning over the course of a season, like what Class 5A lower state tournament qualifier St. James did this year. Aynor softball, a Class 3A lower State qualifier, has the area’s most prolific scoring offense at 1.3 runs per inning.
But here’s the thing that makes all of this stand out so much more: Neither of the Trojans’ squads were doing anything like this during the regular season.
Of baseball’s three prior double-digit victories, two came against Creek Bridge, a school that has struggled mightily athletically and will be consolidated after this school year, and a third against Carvers Bay, a team that won three games all season. Softball only had four — two against Creek Bridge, another against Carvers Bay and the season opener against Marion.
“Our regular-season schedule is pretty tough,” Henry Martin said. “Just about everyone we played is 3A or better. Coming back and playing straight 1A schools, I’d think it helps us.”
Said Cox: “Our region, for a long time, has been very, very tough. I can tell you in years past it was four teams from our region playing in the lower state, or at least three.”
If that build-up toward the postseason sounds familiar, it’s a similar path that the school’s football team took en route to the 2018 Class A state championship, a first in school history. Donnie Keifer’s squad had three blowout victories during the regular season (West Columbus, N.C., Creek Bridge and McBee) before catching fire in the playoffs. There, the Trojans defeated C.E. Murray, Baptist Hill and Hemingway by an average of five touchdowns before outlasting Lamar in the state finals.
The Trojans baseball and softball teams could see all of this end in a hurry, and everyone is cognizant of several hurdles still in play. For softball, the next one is a road game at Lake View for a second-round lower state game on Monday.
The Wild Gators beat Green Sea Floyds twice in the regular season after eliminating them from the lower state field each of the last two years. If Trojans can buck that trend, however, they would play host to the lower state finals on Friday.
Baseball has already done its part to host the lower state finals, which will take place Wednesday. Regardless of who the Trojans will have to play, the opponent will be one that has had to strain their pitching staffs throughout the elimination round(s).
And face an offense that has been putting up some incredible numbers.
“I hope we can hoist another trophy here in a couple weeks,” Cox said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”