By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
NOTEBOOK: Rebels eyeing fresh start in region play
Royal finishes fourth in Division II Championships
In addition to leading the Rebels' baseball team, he will serve as the wide receiver coach and special teams coordinator for football. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

Effingham County’s baseball team gets a restart this week, trading in a 2-9 non-region record for 0-0 with the beginning of Region 2-AAAAAA play.

The Rebels open their region slate with a three-game set against Bradwell Institute today. Game 2 is in Hinesville on Wednesday, with the series finale Friday in Springfield.

“Of course, you want to win, but you try not to measure the (non-region schedule) in wins and losses,” ECHS coach Shane Ramsey said. “We’re getting better. We’ve competed. I’ve been proud of our guys.”

Ramsey hoped to push his squad with a tough opening schedule that included highly regarded Pope and defending Class AAAAAA state champion Houston County.

The Rebels were blown out 11-1 in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Houston County last Friday but fought back to a 5-5 deadlock in the sixth inning of the second game before falling 10-5.

“You take away a few miscues and we have a chance to win that game,” Ramsey said.

He could say the same about a 6-5 loss March 9 to Lakeside, Evans — the Region 4-AAAAAA champion a year ago. The Rebels led Lakeside 5-3 early on.

Ramsey said starters Caden Kessler, Griffin Howe and Chapman Bennett have pitched well.

Shortstop Blake Hendrix has been one of the team’s hottest hitters. He had five hits in the doubleheader against Houston (3 for 3 in the second game).

“We want to be in the top four in the region in April so we still have all of our goals in front of us,” said Ramsey, whose squad begins a three-game set with Richmond Hill on March 21.


Royal places fourth in Division II 

Former-Effingham County standout wrestler Isiah Royal, now a senior at Newberry College, placed fourth last weekend at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in St. Louis.

Royal, a national champion in the 141-pound weight class last season, entered this year’s tournament as the top-ranked 149-pounder.

But Royal (11-2) lost a sudden-death overtime heartbreaker in the semifinals to Nebraska-Kearney’s Sam Turner 3-1, then won a consolation match against Indianapolis’ Logan Bailey 8-4 before dropping the third-place match to Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Jacob Ealy 6-2.

Royal finished his career at Newberry as a four-time All-American. He qualified for nationals five times, gaining the extra year when the threat of COVID cancelled the Championships in 2020.