Nick Clary and his North Augusta teammates didn’t know what to expect from this year’s youthful team as they entered the season.
After a team-bonding trip to Memphis over spring break, the Yellow Jackets found their groove, backed by a memorable senior season from Clary.
For his efforts as a senior leader on and off the field, Clary is The Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area South Carolina Baseball Player of the Year.
“He’s been a huge part of the program,” North Augusta coach Matt Branon said. “He’s an emotional leader and the numbers speak for themselves, not just on the mound but at the plate, too. He’s been one of our leading contributors and came up with big hits. He’s strong in all assets.”
Clary notched a 2.20 ERA with 42 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 44 innings. He added a .360 average at the plate with seven doubles and 27 RBI, and he only struck out six times as North Augusta’s leadoff hitter.
He was named All-State in Class AAAA, a member of the North/South Game and USA Baseball Classic All-Tournament Team.
When North Augusta needed a key hit to start a rally or a big performance on the mound against a region rival, Clary was there to get it done. He dueled South Aiken star right-hander Connor O’Rear to a 2-0 victory for a region win in March and threw a five-inning no-hitter against Daniel in the first round of the playoffs in May.
“Every time I stepped on the mound I felt like we could win,” Clary said. “I wanted the ball. I wanted to take control.”
He was just as important off the field as a vocal leader who helped mold a young team into a state contender. A spring break trip as a team turned into valuable bonding time, and the Yellow Jackets rolled for the rest of the year.
With Clary leading the way, North Augusta won District II in dramatic fashion, then battled its way through the loser’s bracket to the Upper State championship. The Yellow Jackets bowed out to South Pointe in the semifinals, but it proved to be a memorable run.
“We didn’t know what to expect coming in, because we were so young,” Clary said. “We came together as a team and we clicked. We knew we had the ability to go far, but once we got the confidence to do that, we were just rolling.”
Clary’s next step is Lander, where he’ll pitch for the strong Division II program in the Peach Belt Conference. But while his focus is now on making his mark in college, Clary will continue to leave an impact on North Augusta’s program as it looks to maintain success.
“North Augusta has meant so much to me,” he said. “When I moved here, everybody treated me like home. I believed we could do big things and we did. I know the program will keep doing good things. They’re on the rise.”