A pair of shortstops led the All-Laurens County baseball and softball teams this year.
Jalen Bragg and Cassidy Plaia, both of Laurens District High School, were each named Player of the Year in their respective sport.
Laurens Academy’s Luke Tollison, who led the Crusaders to the S.C. Independent Schools Association playoffs with a late-season surge, was Coach of the Year in baseball, and Clinton’s first-year head coach, Ryan Caughman, was honored in softball. The Red Devils finished 10-6-1 and won a Class 3A playoff game against Fairfield Central.
Bragg and Plaia headed the 10-player All-Laurens County teams.
Honored for their baseball prowess were five Raiders – Bragg, outfielders Tanner Smith and Nick Robertson, third baseman Kobe Williams and catcher Zac Rice – along with three Red Devils – outfielder Griffin Fuller and infielders Konnor Richardson and Caleb Riddle – and two Crusaders – outfielder Dawson Foster and infielder Thomas Lowry.
Seven all-county players – Bragg, Smith, Williams, Rice, Riddle, Richardson and Lowry – were selected in part for their performances on the mound.
Five LDHS players – infielders Plaia and Vanessa Harshaw, designated player Trinity Daniel, pitcher Rachel Delio and catcher Kauree Munyan – also made the softball all-county team, joined by four from Clinton – infielder Hunter Benson, outfielder Madison Burton, pitcher Kamryn Akins and catcher Maddi Wood – and infielder Blair Quarles of Laurens Academy, which restarted its softball program this spring after an absence of several years.
Bragg, who will play next year at Florence-Darlington Tech, scored 23 runs and pounded out 31 hits for a .456 batting average. He made all-region for the third year in a row.
Smith, who signed with Spartanburg Methodist, led the Raiders in runs with 29 and batted .294. Williams batted .350 with 29 hits and 17 runs batted in. Rice, singled out by head coach Tori Patterson as his team’s best defensive player, batted .284 with 21 hits and 17 RBI. Robertson, headed to USC Union, was the Raiders’ best pitcher with 60 strikeouts in 48-2/3 innings to go with a 3-4 record.
Patrolling center field flawlessly for the Red Devils, Fuller led the team in most statistical categories with a .429 average, 21 hits, six doubles and 14 RBI in 16 games. Richardson played a solid first base and batted .383 with the only home run Clinton hit all year. Riddle was Clinton’s most versatile player. He tied for the team lead in runs scored and led the team with 30 innings pitched and a 2.28 earned run average.
Foster led Laurens Academy with a .459 average, stole 13 bases and never made an error in center field. On the mound, Lowry held opposition batters to a .228 average, with 35 strikeouts in 31 innings, and batted .370.
The softball Player of the Year, Plaia, made all-state and all-region. She batted .493 with 34 hits, 15 doubles, two homers 17 RBI, 28 runs score an 12 stolen bases.
Joining her on the all-county team were fellow Raiders Harshaw, who batted .473, banged out 26 hits and drove in 11 runs; Daniel, who batted .429 and stole six bases; Munyan, an eighth grader behind the plate who batted .414 with 29 hits; and Delio, who pitched in every game and held opponents to a .212 average while batting .309.
Benson, Clinton’s all-state and all-region shortstop, led the team with a .450 batting average, eight doubles and stolen bases and 21 RBI. Akins batted .429 and pitched 113 innings with 152 strikeouts and a 1.67 ERA. Behind the plate, Wood made only one error, and at it, she batted .367 with eight extra-base hits. Burton anchored the Red Devil outfield and batted .357.
Quarles led the Crusaders with a .533 batting average and seven stolen bases. In fact, Quarles led LA in virtually all offensive categories.
Seven of the 10 all-county baseball honorees are seniors along with a junior and two sophomores. The softball team features four seniors, three juniors, two freshmen and an eighth-grader.