By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – It was a disappointing baseball season for Effingham County, but three Rebels will get another swing, this time playing at the next level.
Shortstop Blake Hendrix and pitcher Mason Mock are heading to East Georgia State College in Swainsboro. Teammate Griffin Howe will move on to St. Johns River State College, a junior college in Palatka, Florida.
The trio held a signing party May 5 at ECHS.
"I'm so proud of them, those three are like kids to me," Rebels coach Shane Ramsey said. "I've been here for all four of their years (two as an assistant and two as head coach) so I've watched them put in a lot of hard work."
ECHS finished with a 12-16 record, 8-10 in Region 2-6A, and failed to make the state tournament. But the Rebels ended on a high note by winning a three-game series from rival South Effingham two games to one late in the season and finishing with five victories in their final seven games.
Howe, an all-region performer as a third baseman and pitcher, led ECHS in batting average (.341), hits (29), runs batted in (17), earned run average (2.02) and strikeouts (51).
"I think (junior college) is a good way for me to grow, then I can transfer," said the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder. "Coach Ross Jones runs a good program at St. Johns River. He sees me as a two-way guy (hitting and pitching)."
Hendrix, a 5-11, 160-pound shortstop/pitcher, also had a solid year for the Rebels. He earned second-team all-region honors after hitting .267 with 15 RBIs. On the mound, he registered a 2.15 ERA.
"When I came into high school, I was already thinking about college so this is a dream come true," Hendrix said. "I went to a practice (at East Georgia) and liked everything about the school."
Mock, a 5-10, 200-pound right-hander, saw limited action the last two seasons after needing Tommy John surgery as a junior. A shoulder injury kept him from pitching as a senior.
"If we had Mason, I know we could've made the playoffs. That was a key missing cog," Ramsey said.
East Georgia, coached by Mason's father Jason Mock, will take a chance.
"I've played for him my whole life, travel ball and everything, so I know what to expect," Mason Mock said. "It's a blessing that I have the opportunity to do this."
Locals earn all-region baseball honors
The All-Region 2-6A baseball team was announced May 3 with several local players capturing postseason accolades.
For Effingham County, Caden Kessler (utility), Griffin Howe (pitcher) and Trent Newberry (outfielder) were first teamers. Newton Kieffer (first base), Q King (outfielder) and Blake Hendrix (pitcher) were second teamers and Will Floyd, Hunter Aiken and Brandon Morgan were honorable mentions.
For South Effingham, Dalton Redmond (infielder), Aaron Benton (catcher), Maddox Shiell (outfielder) and Kaleb Johnson (pitcher) were first teamers. Ty Cantaline (outfielder) and Dru Futch (pitcher) were second teamers and Avery Sikes, Nick Cooper and Owen Barton made honorable mention.
ECHS names new coaches
Effingham County solidified its boys and girls basketball coaching staffs by naming Tramaine Aaron the new boys’ basketball coach and Danetia Jefferson-Howard the new girls’ coach.
Aaron replaced Travis Priddy, who was the boys’ interim coach. Jefferson-Howard replaced Kyle Hurley, who was girls’ interim coach.
Aaron coached at Central Arizona College, a junior college in Coolidge, Arizona, for nine years.
ECHS, SEHS compete in Area 1-6A tourney
The boys and girls golf teams for Effingham County and South Effingham competed in the Area 1-6A tournament on May 1.
South's girls fared the best, finishing third in their seven-team area. Cayla Tasney shot an 86 to lead the team. The ECHS girls were fourth with Natalie Altman recording a team-leading 89.
In boys play, South finished tied for ninth among 13 teams. Andrew Carr led the way with an 85. The Rebels placed 12th led by Staten Shell's 94.