By Jerob Moon- Sports Information
ROCK HILL- It’s summertime once again in South Carolina, and the Piedmont Pride are ready to start their third season in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League.
The first two seasons for the Pride have been very successful. The team has won the regular season title the past two years, with a combined record of 67-18.The club boasted a winning record against all of their opponents last season and a 35-11 record overall.
The Pride was the best offensive team in the league last year. The team led the league in runs, triples, home runs, and walks. They were also effective on the mound, leading the league with a team 3.04 ERA and second in strikeouts at 307.
The one thing that has eluded the Pride and Coach Joe Hudak is the SCBL championship. Last season the Pride lost to the SBA Bones in the final game of the best of three championship series.
This year, the Pride return to Rock Hill with another strong team. The roster features 28 players from 20 different schools and 12 different states. 20 of the 28 players are freshmen and sophomores, but while the team is young, there are four returning players with valuable experience in the SCBL.
Jr. C Bailey Montoya- A SCBL All-Star from last season, Montoya will be behind the plate again for the Pride. The catcher appeared in 38 games, more than any other player at his position. He batted .250, driving in 14 runs while scoring 16 runs himself. He was great behind the plate as well. Montoya caught the most innings in the league with 227.2, the next closest player was 150.1 innings. He was seventh in fielding percentage for a catcher (.990%).
Sr. INF Zach Shank- The experienced infielder can play any position on the field, and Coach Hudak took advantage of that last season. Shank appeared in 39 games, batting .229, driving in 19 runs and stealing 10 bases good for fourth most on the team.
Jr. RHP Zach English- A solid relief pitcher, English appeared in 20 games last year- the most in the SCBL. He was a strong presence from the bullpen, 4 wins, 2 saves, and 29 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched.
Sr. LHP Tristan Helms- The lone returner from the first Pride team back in 2015. The submarine pitcher will be used primarily as a situational pitcher. In 2015 he appeared in 15 games spanning 14 innings.
Coach Hudak and the new players lean on these returning players. “It’s great to have a group of core guys that can show the other guys what it’s all about. They’re a great group of guys that take a leadership role, and they do a good job with it.”
There are also a few players that performed well for their respective colleges this season, and they hope to contribute for the Pride this summer.
Soph. INF Javon Martin- Florence-Darlington Tech (SC)- In his second season with the Stingers, Martin was a key player. He batted .357 with 65 hits, 4 home runs, and 59 runs scored. His great play helped lead the Stingers to a 42-17 record, and an appearance in the NJCAA World Series.
Soph. RHP Korey Prince- Pasco Hernando CC (FL)- Price had a solid first season with the Conquistadors starting 10 games with a 3.01 ERA. He pitched 68.2 innings, struck out 42 batters and only gave up 23 earned runs.
Jr. INF Joe Campagna- Slippery Rock (PA)- Campagna had a strong sophomore season starting all 47 games. He hit .291 with 37 runs scored, seven home runs, and 27 RBI’s. The righty had 11 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games.
The Pride’s season gets underway this Wednesday, May 31st. The team hits the road for their first game against the Carolina Vipers who finished third in the league last season at 25-16. First pitch is at 7pm at Charlotte Latin High School.