By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – Sophomore Dalton Redmond was ready to play shortstop for South Effingham.
He saw time with the varsity as a freshman, then broke his hand midway through the season against Brunswick. But time has a way of mending things and creating different breaks.
“(Senior starter Carson) Spendiff graduated last year and there was no one to step into the spot,” Redmond said, matter-of-factly.
On opening day, Mustangs coach Jesse Osborne had the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder penciled into the starting lineup. Redmond hasn’t disappointed with a .292 batting average and just one throwing error in the team’s first eight games.
“We knew he was a good player. The kid is athletic in whatever he does,” Osborne said.
Redmond dabbled with football in the fall and earned All-Region 2-6A first-team honors as a punter after averaging 35.4 yards a punt, dropping five of his 13 kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Osborne, who has coached basketball at SEHS, said Redmond could have helped the basketball team as a point guard.
But Redmond won’t cheat on baseball. He’s a line-drive hitter with some pop, valuable commodities from a shortstop. He played travel ball over the summer with Five Star West.
“Shortstop has been our downfall for consistency the last four years,” Osborne said. “Nothing against Carson. He played great, but he was playing out of position. We’ve been below a .900 fielding percentage the last four years.”
Now Redmond’s play, combined with Dru Futch’s abilities at third base and the return of Owen Barton at second, is expected to tighten the infield defense.
Offensively, Redmond, an aggressive fastball hitter, has been sharing the lead-off position with Kaleb Johnson.
Redmond almost shrugs his shoulders about his responsibilities.
“I just do anything I can to get on base and help my team,” he said about leading off.
“I’m just trying to go after every ball,” he said about his defensive strategy.
Redmond has been asked to pitch and came up big on the mound too. At the Coastal Georgia Invitational, he recorded four scoreless innings against North Forsyth, a team that won 21 games and went to the Class 7A state playoffs in 2022.
Redmond suffered a sprained ankle at the start of the season, but seemingly is back to full strength. He took a three-game hitting streak into the Mustangs’ clash with First Presbyterian on Saturday.
“I kept working and didn’t try to be too much and just tried to stay within myself,” Redmond said. “I knew I could be good.”
He’ll get his chance to show his wares in the upcoming weeks. South (6-3) headed into this week with a three-game, non-region set with Richmond Hill, followed by a key Region 2-6A series with Evans High starting March 13.
Evans was the Region 3 champion last season and advanced to the Elite Eight at state before being eliminated by eventual Class 6A state champion Pope.
ECHS Meets Glynn for Three-Game Set
Effingham County (5-5, 1-0 Region 2-6A) began a three-game series with Glynn Academy (9-3, 2-1). The first game was March 6 in Springfield with the second game tonight in Brunswick and the finale on Friday back in Springfield.
The last time out on Friday (March 3), the Rebels split a doubleheader with Islands. ECHS won the first game 2-0 behind the 5.1-inning, three-hit scoreless effort of starter Blake Hendrix.
Islands took the nightcap, 6-5.