For a snapshot of Weber Pike, the baseball player, start with a late-season game against Summerville.
The Beaufort High School senior, reaching to foul off a curveball, felt a sharp pain in his left wrist and stepped out of the box while an athletic trainer investigated. He remained in the game, stepped back in the box and blooped the next pitch for a single.
Pike played the final seven games of the season with a stress fracture in his left wrist. Doctors will remove a black cast Wednesday that he has worn for three weeks since the season ended.
While playing injured, Pike hit his first home run as a high school player, an inside curveball delivered over a short fence at a tournament at Hanahan.
He doesn't often hit for power. He doesn't always wow. Pike just hits.
The Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet All-Area Baseball Player of the Year batted .544 his senior season. He drove in 20 runs and was an all-state and North-South selection.
Pike will attend South Carolina, starting with a summer chemsitry class next week. He will be a walk-on no doubt overshadowed by higher profile scholarship players and late-round draft picks.
"If I can hit well enough, I'll have a spot on the field," Pike said. "I'm confident that it's going to happen."
The confidence was built from an early age, when Pike hit balls from a pitching machine in his backyard. When his shots began reaching the woods, he graduated to a batting cage.
Before each recreation league game, Pike and his dad, Jim, would hit in the cage.
"He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he is the most dedicated and the hardest worker on the baseball field," Beaufort High School coach Scott Mullen said. "And he's going to reap the benefits of it."
Pike and the Eagles returned to the playoffs this year under first-year head coach Mullen, a former big league pitcher who had previously coached Beaufort's American Legion team. Mullen, the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet Baseball Coach of the Year, helped lead the Eagles' turnaround by preaching the fundamentals and identifying the tean's best arms.
Beaufort High finished runner-up in difficult Region 8-AAAA, defeating eventual region and Class 4-A champion Ashley Ridge at Beaufort High before losing its next two to the Swamp Foxes, both close games.
The Eagles were bounced early from the Class 4-A playoffs, but Mullen said his team should return strong. Beaufort High's notable losses include Pike and the longtime middle-infield combination of Mitchell Stewart and Mark Jones.
But, like this season, Mullen is counting on others to step in. When the Eagles' identity seemed uncertain early in the season, pitchers Carson Gregory and Austin Willis-Greene provided consistency on the mound, combining for an 11-5 record and each finishing with a sub-three ERA.
"Every year, somebody always steps up," Mullen said. "That's just the way it is. You go into it blindly. It's not your preference, but we did. Austin and Carson stepping up, that was a big help. Our lineup was very potent this year. I'd put it up against any lineup in the state."
It will be a lineup without its most consistent hitter. Pike hasn't played any baseball since the end of the high school season while his fracture heals. He would otherwise have joined the Diamond Devils travel team out of Charleston.
His focus turns to school, where he will rekindle talks with the Gamecocks coaching staff after the College World Series and begin working to impress another set of coaches.
"I said, 'Weber, don't change a thing. Just go up there and let your bat do the talking,' " Mullen said. "I've seen a lot of good hitters. Weber can hit the ball."
BEAUFORT GAZETTE/ISLAND PACKET ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Weber Pike, Beaufort High
Coach of the Year: Scott Mullen, Beaufort High
1B - Storm Grisham, Hilton Head High
Stats: .405, 3 HR, 6 doubles, 23 RBI
Comment: Batting in the heart of the Seahawks' order, Grisham led Hilton Head High in nearly every offensive category.
2B - Mark Jones, Beaufort High
Stats: .316 avg., 3 HR, 29 RBI
Comment: Senior was a North-South and all-region selection
3B - Michael Grant, Bluffton
Stats: .370 avg., 2 HR, 4 doubles, 18 RBI
Comment: Athletic infielder provided veteran presence for Bobcats.
SS - Mitchell Stewart, Beaufort High
Stats: .413 avg., 1 HR, 18 SB
Comment: Sharp glove part of veteran middle infield that will be missed
OF - Ryan Day, Thomas Heyward Academy
Stats: .515 avg., 17 RBI, .667 OBP
Comment: Region player of the year also won six games as a pitcher, with a 1.93 ERA, 44 K and 11 BB
OF - JD Reichel, Hilton Head Christian Academy
Stats: .356 avg., 7 doubles
Comment: Helped surprising Eagles with 10 stolen bases
OF - Dee Delaney, Whale Branch
Stats: .432 avg., 9 doubles, 24 SB
Comment: Center fielder also became a big-game pitcher who demanded the ball in crunch time
C - Weber Pike, Beaufort High
Stats: .544 avg., HR, 20 RBI
Comment: All-state and North-South selection turns his attention to the Gamecocks
UTIL - Kevin Hickey, Hilton Head High
Stats: .338, 5 doubles, 15 RBI
Comment: Seahawks shortstop was steady in the field and hit for average.
UTIL - Shane Dixon, Battery Creek
Stats: .345 avg., 11 RBI; 3.13 ERA, 54 K
Comment: Senior moves on to play at Florence Darlington Tech
P - Cameron Stoltz, Hilton Head High
Stats: 5-2, 2.29 ERA, 48 K
Comment: Struck out 48 batters in just 39 2-3 innings while tying for the team lead in victories.
P - Carson Gregory, Beaufort High
Stats: 5-2, 2.49 ERA
Comment: All-region selection also batted .362, with two home runs
P - Chance Murphy, Bluffton
Stats: 5-1, 3.21 ERA
Comment: Bobcat righty registered two complete games, including one shutout.
P - Austin Willis-Greene, Beaufort High
Stats: 6-3, 2.88 ERA
Comment: Right-hander emerged to carry a big load for the Eagles
Tommy Hill, Battery Creek
Dustin Spurlock, Battery Creek
David Tilton, Beaufort High
Alex Silon, Beaufort High
Tony Nolan, Beaufort High
Luke Smith, Beaufort High
Eric Boyles, Bluffton
Tucker Mosley, Bluffton
Promes Life, Hardeeville
Tra Waiters, Hardeeville
Michael Haven, Hilton Head High
Mat Clark, Hilton Head High
Brandon Johnson, Hilton Head High
Andrew Halley, Hilton Head Christian
Randy Young, Hilton Head Prep
Joe Laycock, Thomas Heyward Academy
Ty Fields, Whale Branch
Danny Makowski, Whale Branch