Mavs, Warriors will decide SCC title

Powerhouse programs start three-game series Tuesday
Apr. 20, 2013 @ 12:12 PM
Prior to the start of this season, Southern Carolina Conference coaches unanimously agreed that the final series should be between two rival schools.
Weddington-Marvin Ridge was a natural matchup, and both the Warriors and the Mavericks played well enough in SCC play to assure that this week’s three-game series will decide the conference championship.
Natural rivals (Marvin Ridge took most of its student body from Weddington's district when it opened in 2007) the two schools also boast nearly unmatched success on the diamond. Marvin Ridge (19-2, 12-0 SCC) is the defending league champion; Weddington (15-5, 10-1 through Friday) is the defending state champion.
“The season is a journey,” Mavericks coach Mark Mennitt said. “We know every conference game is important, but playing Weddington just adds a whole new (dimension). You know you’re going to get a playoff atmosphere. We’re just happy to be in this situation, where it means something.” 
Here are the scenarios — Weddington was scheduled to play Porter Ridge at 2 p.m. Saturday. If the Warriors win, they are one game behind Marvin Ridge. Whichever team wins next week’s series would win the league title. A loss to the Pirates means the Warriors would have to sweep.
It’s a tall order for Weddington, but the Warriors have overcome some unexpected trials as a bevy of injuries to Weddington’s ultra-talented pitching staff thrust some unfamiliar names into the spotlight.
With Alex Bostic (Clemson commit) and Sean Collins (Virginia commit) hobbled, Josh Islam and Paul Brocklebank slid into starting roles along with Landon Kay, a transfer from Charlotte Christian. With Jeremy Schellhorn (Charlotte commit) strengthening his pitching arm from surgery, the Warriors turned to freshman submarine thrower Cameron Smetak to log relief innings.
“They definitely all stepped up in a huge way,” said Schellhorn, who made his season debut on the mound April 12 against Parkwood. “Those guys have just been phenomenal for us. And for me personally, it was awesome to be back up there (on the mound). It had been a while.”
Having a prolific offense has helped Weddington's pitching maturation, too. Bostic leads the county with nine home runs, and he’s a tough out batting No. 2 in the lineup — behind junior Daniel Calabretta, a Duke commit, who was batting .435 through Friday’s games. 
Similarly, Marvin Ridge’s offense has complemented its lights-out rotation of Zach Kuchmaner, Max Wotell and Joe Tietjen. Eight players are batting over .300, with three regulars — Wotell, Tietjen and Jason Curtis — topping the .400 mark.
“Every game is going to be a bulldog game, and it seems like it usually comes down to one or two runs,” Schellhorn said. “We definitely have respect for each other. Playing for a conference title, it’s definitely huge. It would be pretty cool to bring it back to Weddington my senior year.”
Adding a layer of intrigue is the schedule, which varies from the standard system of one team hosting Tuesday and Friday, with the other team hosting Wednesday.
Marvin Ridge’s field lights are installed and operational; the Mavericks will host the first game of the series on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first game ever played under the lights at the school.
“These seniors are getting the chance to be the first ones to play under the lights, and I’m happy for them,” Mennitt said. “Weddington was gracious enough to switch nights with us so we could do a Senior Night with our softball team.
“They’ve got some big plans for the day, some circus clowns coming or something … it’ll be fun, but I’m worried about what goes on, on the field. I won’t really keep up with that other stuff. We’re focused on the game.”
Fight for the third
Sun Valley and Porter Ridge close the SCC regular season in a three-game series that will decide third place. 
While the Pirates (11-7, 7-4 through Friday) and Spartans (8-11, 5-7) each have a shot to take third, there’s a top seed for the 4A playoffs at stake as well. As the lone 4A schools in the six-team split league, the team that finishes third gets the league’s No. 1 seed in the 4A state playoffs — and at least one home game.
Sun Valley has gone 5-1 in SCC play since opening 0-6. In a must-win game against Parkwood on Friday, pitcher Ryan Tapp struck out 11 batters and Kenny Palmer went 3-for-3 with a home run.
Southern Carolina Conference Standings
Marvin Ridge^12^0^19^2
Porter Ridge^7^4^11^7
Sun Valley^5^7^8^11
Anson County^0^12^0^17
April 16
Porter Ridge 4, Weddington 2
Parkwood 3, Sun Valley 2
Marvin Ridge 8, Anson County 1
April 17
Weddington 6, Porter Ridge 4
Sun Valley 7, Parkwood 3
Marvin Ridge 10, Anson County 4
April 18
Marvin Ridge 14, Anson County 3
Sun Valley 12, Parkwood 2
April 20
Porter Ridge at Weddington, late
Weddington at Marvin Ridge, 7 p.m.
Sun Valley at Porter Ridge, 4:30 p.m.
Anson County at Parkwood, 7 p.m.
Marvin Ridge at Weddington, 7 p.m.
Porter Ridge at Sun Valley, 4:30 p.m.
Parkwood at Anson County, 7 p.m.
Marvin Ridge at Weddington, 7 p.m.
Sun Valley at Porter Ridge, 4:30 p.m.
Anson County at Parkwood, 7 p.m.