MULLINS, S.C. — It’s hard to top guiding a team to the state championship during a first year as coach.
But Pee Dee Academy baseball coach Brian Davis will try just that in SCISA Class 2A.
“I think it’s everybody’s goal to try and get to that last game and see how it falls and try to win it every year,” said Davis, a former Francis Marion University baseball player and Florence Post 1 assistant.
The Golden Eagles, who beat Robert E. Lee for last year’s state crown, returns seven seniors — six of them are starters.
“We’ve kind of set a standard over the last six or seven years,” Davis said. “The program has been building to get to a successful spot. This group has been winning a lot of games since they were young.”
You can tell by Davis’ voice he’s optimistic about his team. But, he has the same caution every coach has at this point.
Besides, anything can happen. A good team must stay healthy to remain good.
“Our plan is just to get a good seed in the playoffs and take it one game at a time and just see where it goes from there,” Davis said. “Anything can happen in the postseason.”
After the Golden Eagles lost catcher Hayden Panos and pitcher Reagan Fowler to graduation, PDA has key spots to fill, as does any team entering a new season.
Coastal Carolina signee Garrett McDaniels, meanwhile, is projected to be the Golden Eagles’ ace this year.
“He’s a great, all-around baseball player,” Davis said. “He pounds the zone with his fastball and mixes in two more pitches with that. He just wants the ball in his hands, doesn’t get rattled on the mound.”
The top hitter is projected to be Garrett McDaniels at cleanup.
“He stayed at either the No. 3 or 4 hole last season,” Davis said. “We’re not looking to change that this year.”
Pee Dee Academy, meanwhile, is not the only defending state baseball champion in the Pee Dee. Laurence Manning is the two-time defending state champ in SCISA Class 3A.
And, the baseball teams from Latta (2A) and Lake View (Class A) hope to take that one final step after losing in last year’s state finals.
Several other milestones will be reached, as they are every year. But one significant feat is Lake View coach Kip Herlong earning his 500th career win during early tournament play.
But for Pee Dee Academy, it’s about steps toward success.
“We just want to get better each week," Davis said.