A young Pinewood Prep baseball team exceeded expectations last season.
Some didn’t expect the Panthers to be competitive in 2014 and the team did have a slow start. However, Pinewood had a surge late in the season to finish with a 14-11 record, including a 9-1 mark in region play.
With that mark, they earned region co-champion honors. The Panthers made it all the way to the final-four round of the SCISA AAA playoffs before being eliminated by eventual state champion Wilson Hall.
“If you look at wins and losses we didn’t do that great, but at the beginning of the season I didn’t expect us to finish at .500 considering the difficult schedule I set up,” Panthers coach Phil Tobin said. “We had a lot of firsts this season including winning nine games in the region. Some people didn’t think we could be competitive at all but the kids performed well and handled all the challenges.”
Some members of the team performed so well they received post-season honors. Junior catcher Lewis Vaughan and sophomore pitcher Kris Kuhn were both selected to play for the South in the SICSA North/South Baseball All-Star Series and helped the South team to victory.
Vaughan finished the season with a .419 batting average.
“Lewis was an outfielder, but we needed someone to catch so he worked hard in the offseason to get better behind the plate,” Tobin said. “He ended up being one of the best catchers in our region and he made big contributions with his bat.”
Kuhn also had to move into a different role for the Panthers this season. When all-state hurler John McMicking was injured, Kuhn had to burden the responsibilities of being the Panther’s ace.
“Kris was our No. 1 pitcher most of the year and that wasn’t by design,” Tobin said. “He performed way above my expectations. He pitched nearly every big game we had and was tremendous.”
Kuhn finished with a 6-2 pitching record and a 1.50 ERA. When he wasn’t on the hill, he manned third.
The team also had others who were forced into unfamiliar roles but made the best of it. Senior Cody Lewis anchored the Panther lineup last season and for the first time was used as one of the team’s go-to closers. Sophomore Brock Tobin had never played an inning of high school baseball but he became the Panther’s starting shortstop and earned all-region honors along with Lewis and Kuhn.
“My entire infield did great considering the circumstances,” Tobin said. “Dan Hair played well as a freshman and senior Mike McCombs settled in nicely after struggling with injuries during past seasons. We had a bunch of guys in new roles but it should help next season. We have a good core of players back with experience so I expect them to be competitive.”
Other members of the team were Nick Bedan, Dylan Vaughn, Brandon Brown, Drayton Knight, Andrew Latham, Leslie Redden and Josh Reynolds. Assistant coaches included Jay Buddin and Tony Osterman.