Rebels get an upgrade
When Andrew Starnes was hired as Parkwood’s head baseball coach, his players changed into their practice gear and uniforms in the team’s dugouts. If the dugouts became too crowded, players changed outside in the school parking lot, behind their cars.
Now, two years later, the Rebels have a place of their own.
In his attempt to rebuild the Parkwood program, Starnes and his staff have started on the ground floor by rebuilding some facilities.
With a go-get-‘em mentality — and a bit of elbow grease — the varsity baseball team now has a tangible point of pride in a rebuilt locker room as the program moves forward.
“It’s something that’s really nice, something that they can take pride in,” said Starnes, in his third season as head coach. “It gives the varsity team a place to go after school, a place that’s their own. The kids who play baseball aren’t used to having something like that at Parkwood.”
The new locker room — which is at the back of the school and walks out to the baseball field — was originally a girls locker room back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. It has since been used as a makeshift locker room for wrestlers during a renovation, and more recently, as storage for the volleyball team.
When Starnes began to consider the possibilities, he was thinking big picture. He wasn’t deterred by the moldy carpet, the dented lockers, the paint peeling off the walls.
“What I saw was a bit of potential for us,” Starnes said.
The locker room has since been painted, the lockers have been sanded, stained and painted black — complete with nameplates — and a new rubberized sports flooring has been installed.
A 10-foot long Parkwood baseball graphic adorns the wall, but the most impressive feature may be the graphic on the door.
Superimposed over a baseball design is a Parkwood pitcher. He’s wearing a hat, but his glove is pulled up to his face, making him unrecognizable. He could be anyone.
“That is exactly what we were going for,” Starnes said.
Let there be lights
Parkwood isn’t the only Union County school in the Southern Carolina Conference making an upgrade.
Marvin Ridge players are expected to see a different side of their field by the end of March — the dark side. The stadium is getting lights, giving Marvin Ridge the ability for night games.
“I can’t wait until they get up,” Mavericks coach Mark Mennitt said. “They basically are going to dig six holes and put in the concrete poles and wire them up. All of the work is being done offsite.”
Sun Valley also improved its field last year by installing a warning track.
Piedmont a thorn for most of SCC
Union County schools in the SCC, with the exception of Porter Ridge, have struggled against 2A power Piedmont.
The Panthers are 4-1 in those games, with the most recent triumph a 2-0 decision over Marvin Ridge. Piedmont has outscored its SCC county foes 40-13. The past two victories were shutouts — 9-0 over Sun Valley and 2-0 over Marvin Ridge.
The Pirates (2-3 entering Thursday’s games) beat Piedmont 5-2 in the opener for both schools.
Parkwood also scored five runs against the Panthers, but lost 11-5.
“Piedmont got the best of us, but that’s sort of become the norm here lately for us SCC teams,” Starnes said with a chuckle.
The Rebels, 1-2 entering Thursday’s game, responded from that loss by beating Hickory Ridge in nine innings.
The Rebels trailed 5-0 for most of the game, but began chipping away in earnest in the fifth inning.
Down 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Danny Edwards swung at the first offering from a new pitcher and hit a single into left field, bringing in the tying run.
Parkwood won it in the ninth. With Chris Beaver on first base and one out, the Rebels called for a sacrifice bunt. The bunt went back to the pitcher, who sailed the throw to second base into the outfield. The center fielder then overthrew third base, and the ball went under the fence along the third base side.
Beaver, who was on third at the time, was awarded home plate.
“That game definitely was refreshing to see them hungry,” Starnes said. “We got down early but never quit and did enough things to win that game.”