Bengal baseball, softball keep focused for postseason

Blythewood baseball will host the first game of the 5A state playoffs on May 3. | Anthony Montgomery

BLYTHEWOOD – For the second straight year, both the Blythewood baseball and softball programs captured Region 4-5A championships.

This time around, the Bengals look to avoid disappointment both teams found last year in the first round.

The baseball team, aiming to get back into the 5A state championship series, lost twice to J.L. Mann in the District 2 tournament last season and finished 23-5. The softball team lost to Mauldin and Clover in its District 2 tournament and finished 14-5.

With their Region games complete—both teams finished region play at 8-0—the Bengals spent last week and this week keeping on their toes for the playoffs that open Tuesday for baseball, Wednesday for softball.

Blythewood baseball, ranked 16th nationally the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National High School Top 30, has been focused on working within each day, and will keep doing so in the postseason, head coach Banks Faulkner said.

“We talk about just worry about today,” he said. “It’s easy to start looking ahead, but we’re just focusing on being at our best each day. It’s all we can do.”

Monday night’s challenge at home was Spring Valley, and pitcher James Wilson. Wilson pitched five innings of four-hit ball, but Blythewood managed to get a run across in the second and two in the fifth.

Once Wilson came off the mound, the Bengals bombed reliever Wynn Revan in a 5-run sixth inning, with home runs from Kevin Steelman, Justin Flemming, and Caleb McCants. Blythewood closed out an 8-0 shutout of the Vikings.

Bengals starter Landon Penfield put up a stunning performance on the mound, 1-hitting Spring Valley, striking out 11 and walking none through six innings.

“I like how we played tonight,” Faulkner said. “Landon’s been like that, he’s just a strike thrower. He’s really worked on developing his breaking ball as the years have gone on. He can get some punchouts and we’re really confident that when he’s on the mound he’ll give us a competitive outing.”

Blythewood baseball (24-1) played A.C. Flora Wednesday.

“Flora’s always good, we had a battle with them in Georgetown (a 7-2 win over the Falcons March 5). They’ve got a really good lineup,” Faulkner said. “We’re going to throw a lot of our pitchers Wednesday just to give them some work before the playoffs. That’ll be great for us and them.” 

Blythewood softball will host the first game of the 5A state playoffs on May 4. | Anthony Montgomery

Blythewood softball is using this week to keep ready as well, but also to focus on playing a cleaner overall game.

“We played really well, competed the entire time,” Blythewood head softball coach Jordan Atkinson said of her team’s season. “I’m really pleased with our hitting and pitching.”

Atkinson showcases her team’s two victories over arch-rival Spring Valley as the benchmark for her team’s performance in the postseason. The Bengals took out the Vikings 14-3 in five innings March 25, then went to Spring Valley April 19 and dispatched them 17-2 in six innings.

Hardy was in the circle for both games. She scattered six hits and struck out seven March 26, and followed up with a 2-hitter April 19, striking out eight.

At the plate over both games, Hardy went 5-for-7 with three doubles, a home run and batted in 8 runs. Josie Smythe went 5-for-6 with two doubles, a home run and 7 RBI. Haley McCoy had four hits, among them two doubles.

Neilah Brwone went 3-for-3 and an RBI March 28 and Maddie Bell had three hits and three RBI April 19.

“We 10-runned them both times,” Atkinson said. “We hit the ball well, batters one through nine contributing, and we pitched really well. We’ve just got to bring that same mentality against Spring Valley to all our other games.”

In the Bengals’ 4-1 loss to Clover Monday night, the Blue Eagles showed Atkinson some vulnerabilities. She told the team after the game that those little mistakes made on defense turned out to be costly.

“We hit with Clover, pitched with clover, but at the end of it, they made no mistakes, and every error we made, a run scored,” Atkinson said. “The difference came down to who played the cleanest and it wasn’t us.”

“Fixable,” she added. 

Hardy was in the circle for Clover and scattered six hits, but three unearned runs proved the difference.

Blythewood softball played at River Bluff Wednesday and hosts A.C. Flora Monday.

Blythewood baseball opens the 5A playoffs in the District 4 Tournament that opens Tuesday, where it will take on the fourth-place finisher in Region III.

Blythewood softball opens its District 4 Tournament Wednesday, playing host to the Region III fourth-place finisher.

Blythewood baseball

Thursday

Spring Valley – 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 — 0, 1, 1

Blythewood – 0-1-0-0-2-5-X — 8, 9, 1

WP: Landon Penfield. LP: James Wilson.

Hitters: B – Kevin Steelman 2-4, HR, 2 RBI. Jordan Fleming HR, 2 RBI. Zac Cowan HR, 2 RBI. Alex Nevils 2B. Stephen Lang- Spittler 2B.

Friday

Ridge View  – 0-0-0 — 0, 1, 0

Blythewood  – 7-9-X — 16, 12, 0

WP: Kevin Steelman. LP: Jonethan Guess

Hitters: B – Zac Cowan 3-3, HR, 2 RBI. Alex Nevils 2-2, 2B (2), 3 RBI. Landon Penfield 2-2, 2B. Camden Watts 3B. Alex Myers 2B.

Wednesday

Blythewood  – 4-9-1-2-0 — 16, 15, 0

Ridge View  – 2-0-0-0-0 — 2, 5, 2

WP: Davis Wright. LP: Jackson Kennedy

Hitters: B – Kevin Steelman 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI. John Rollings 3-4. Camden Watts 2-4, 3B, 3 RBI. Alex Myers 2-4. Stephen Lang-Spittler HR. Zac Cowan 2B. Luke Duncan 2B.

Blythewood Softball

Monday

Clover  – 1-2-0-1-0-0-0 — 4, 6, 1

Blythewood – 0-0-1-0-0-0-0 —    1, 5, 3

WP: A Mason. LP: Lauren Hardy

Hitters: C – M Bruining 3-4. K York 2-3. B – I’yanna Velez 2-3. Ashlee Hoile 2B.

Friday

Blythewood  – 0-3-4-2-1-0 — 19, 12, 0

Ridge View – 0-0-0-0-0 — 0, 0, 4

WP: Lauren Hardy. LP: J Robertson

Hitters: B – Haley McCoy 4-5, 2B (2), 5 RBI. Josie Smythe 3-3, 2B. Ashlee Hoile 2-3, 4 RBI. Laruen Hardy 2B.

Thursday

Blythewood  – 2-5-2-0-2 — 11, 11, 0

Dutch Fork  – 0-0-0-0-0 — 0, 0, 4

WP: Josie Smythe. LP: L Peppers.

Hitters: B – I’yanna Velez 2-2, 2B, 3 RBI. Josie Smythe 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI. Haley McCoy 2-4. M Bell 2-4.

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