By Scotty Rouse
You would think that a 32-8 record and second straight regular season SCBL title would be cause for celebration for the Piedmont Pride players and coaching staff. While the team is happy with that accomplishment, they have a greater goal in mind-winning the SCBL playoffs and overall championship. Head coach Joe Hudak summed up the feelings of his charges. “We’re very happy with how the regular season went, and happy to be the regular season champion”, Hudak commented. “We know there is still work to be done.”
Winning the regular season and being the top seed in the playoffs earned the Pride a bye during Monday’s first round of the playoffs. The second place SBA Bones also earned a bye. On Monday, number three seed Carolina Vipers host the number six seed Team Charlotte, while fourth seed Lake Norman Copperheads host the number five seed Concord Weavers. The two winners advance to round two, while the two losers are done for the summer. The Pride will play the lowest remaining seed a best of three series Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, while the Bones will play a best of three series against the highest remaining seed.
The Pride will host game one of the series Tuesday at 7:00PM at the Winthrop Ballpark. Game two will be Wednesday on the road at 7:00PM, while game three, if needed, will be back at the Winthrop Ballpark at 7:00PM on Thursday. Should the Pride win that series, they will play the three game championship series against the winner of the other series on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Once again, the Pride would host game one Friday at 7:00 at the Winthrop Ballpark. Game two would be on the road Saturday at 7:00PM, while game three, if needed, would be Sunday at 3:00PM at the Winthrop Ballpark.
Hudak, a baseball coach for over 40 years, knows that you can throw the records out the window when playing a short series. “Anything can happen in a short three-game series, especially in the game of baseball”, the veteran skipper explained. “One team can hit the ball right on the button all night and have nothing to show for it, while another team can hit routine ground balls and flares that just find a hole. So much depends on the guy on the mound, and whether he has a good day or not. I heard former big league manager Tony LaRussa describe it as a crapshoot, and he was 100% correct.”
One thing Hudak is hoping for is a good crowd for each home game to cheer his guys on. “Our guys have been here all summer doing ministry and giving back to York County,” he shared. “I hope the people of York County return the favor by coming our and supporting the Pride. There’s nothing like having that tenth man in the stadium, cheering the guys on”. To help encourage fans to come out to the ballpark, Hudak and the Pride are offering the special admission price of $1 for all home playoff games for anyone who has any type of South Carolina ID, like a driver’s license or student ID. “We’re the only team from South Carolina in the league, and we want encourage our South Carolina fans to come out and support the Pride. There aren’t many places where a family of four can enjoy an evening of good, clean entertainment for $4.”