The emphasis placed on pitching isn't just evidenced in major league baseball. From the big leagues to the little leagues, solid pitching is the key to winning that elusive championship.
While it takes a team that hits the ball in clutch situations and executes the fundamentals, it also takes successful pitching to win titles.
This season, from Harlem to Greenbrier, Midland Valley to North Augusta, Augusta Christian to Briarwood and Screven County to Swainsboro, the metro-Augusta area is loaded with quality pitchers.
Georgia Class AA state runner-up Harlem not only boasts senior right-hander Chuck Harrington, who was 12-0 last season, but the Bulldogs also return two other solid starters in senior Chris Woods and junior Justin Sheppard.
Screven County left-hander Macay McBride, arguably the area's best, is back to once again, prepared to dominate the competition. The junior already has been named a high school All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
Greenbrier sophomore Bradley Key proved his mettle last season, going 11-1 and helping the Wolfpack to their third straight state title.
This is expected to be Jefferson County's best season ever with senior Craig Norton as well as junior flame-thrower Kyle Amerson. Meanwhile, Swainsboro will depend heavily on senior ace Robby Kasper and junior Raymond Alford.
In Richmond County, Westside could ride senior Matt Nixon's arm into the playoffs, while Burke County sophomore Jonathan Broxton hopes to build on a fabulous freshman campaign.
There isn't a dropoff in the number of hurlers in South Carolina. Baseball scouts like North Augusta's Bobby White. His 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame, coupled with his variety of pitches, could have the senior left-hander playing professionally soon.
Matt Fields is back at Barnwell and will try to build on a season in which he posted a 7-0 record.
Matt Bodie showed a lot of promise on the mound as a sophomore at South Aiken and should pick up where he left off.
Independent schools are also loaded. Augusta Christian boasts Sammy Reed and two newcomers, junior Brian Bennett and freshman Jordan Belcher, who could dominate on the hill and once again make the Lions a state contender.
John Hancock's Brett Reagin and Jason Wheeler are expected to help carry the Rebels into the playoffs, while Briarwood hurler Aaron Phillips will be heavily counted on early.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.