Abi Stokes

Hartsville’s Abi Stokes has thrived as the Red Foxes’ leadoff hitter after struggling at the plate last year.

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Hartsville outfielder Abi Stokes had to have a designated hitter last year.

Not anymore.

This year at leadoff, the junior is hitting .556 for the season with two triples and a double from this week alone. Not to mention, she has a .586 on-base percentage along with 10 stolen bases and 12 RBI for the year.

“I think she’s gotten a hit in each of the past eight or 10 games,” Hartsville coach Tommy Garrison said. “She’s been on a tear.”

Same goes for her role as the Red Foxes’ No. 2 pitcher. She is 7-0 with a .47 ERA.

“We can’t go without her,” Garrison said. “If you get that leadoff on at the first of the game and you don’t score, that’s not good. As long as she’s getting on base, we’ve got an opportunity to score a run.”

It’s not that Stokes really worked on any drills to improve her hitting. Playing travel ball, she gets all the game experience she needs to adjust.

“I just worked on my hitting all last year and then came back and proved myself,” Stokes said. “Last year did help me because I learned I had to get better at it. So I worked hard and came back.”

Now, one could argue Stokes is in the zone.

“I’m just relaxed up there, and hitting is what I’ve always been able to do,” Stokes said. “It’s now my strongest thing.”

A left-handed hitter, Stokes caught Darlington off guard Tuesday with a slap hit to right center.

“Usually you go toward third base, but I pulled it, which nobody really expected me to do because I had been hitting the rest toward third base,” she said.

That was her second triple of the game against Darlington; the first one brought in two runs for a 2-1 win. On Thursday, she hit her first double of the season to bring in a run, in addition to her RBI single during the Red Foxes’ 5-0 win against South Florence.

After a tournament this weekend at Crescent, Hartsville will enter the Class 4A tournament aiming for its first state crown since 2016.

Count on Stokes to set the tone at the plate.

“(Garrison) just tells me to calm down and relax and everything,” Stokes said. “And that’s what I do.”

Prep Sports Writer

Scott covers prep sports, takes action photos and produces videos. An APSE award winner in sports writing, photography and videography, he played college tennis on scholarship and earned degrees from Young Harris College (Ga.) and Berry College (Ga.).

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