Gray softball goes out on top, caps season with state championship. ‘Is 4A ready for us?’

Gray Collegiate softball capped its winningest season and final one in Class 2A in style — with a state championship.

The War Eagles used a three-run fourth inning to defeat Marion, 8-4, and swept the best-of-three series on Wednesday night. It was the program’s second state championship in the past three years.

“This team is the most talented team I ever coached,” Gray coach Doug Frye said. “I think we’ve got like 49 home runs, which is wild for high school. We got speed, great pitching, great defense and great catching behind the plate. We are just a very solid team.”

The championship is the fourth this year for the school and second in less than a week. Gray Collegiate won the girls track & field championship on Saturday. The War Eagles also won championships in competitive cheerleading and boys basketball this school year and played for titles in boys soccer and football during its final season in 2A.

The War Eagles are moving up to Class 4A for at least the next two years as part of the S.C. High School League’s 2024-26 realignment.

Frye was asked after the game if his program is ready for the jump up in classifications.

“I hate to say this, and I never talk junk, but is 4A ready for us?” Frye said. “We can play with anyone. We know that. … We are built for this.”

If this season is any indication, the War Eagles (34-2) are primed for the move up. Gray Collegiate went 13-2 this season against Class 4A and 5A schools with its two losses coming against Catawba Ridge and Summerville, two teams that are playing for state championships in their respective classes.

Gray will return a strong nucleus of players for next year, including freshmen Aspen Boulware and Peyton Hendrix and Maddox Long. The program’s junior varsity also went 18-2 this season.

“We are ready and have been wanting to move up for a while,” Long said. “It is going to be fun and we are going to enjoy it. We are ready to play some good (region) competition.”

Long and Hendrix shared pitching duties on Wednesday, with Long picking up the win after going four innings. The junior allowed one earned run on six hits and struck out five. Hendrix pitched the final three innings to pick up the save.

Long and Hendrix were moved up in the rotation during the season after senior Mackenzie Mathis went down with a hand injury.

Hendrix was one of four Gray players with two-hit games Wednesday. Kaylan Boudreau, Kaitlyn Mittler and Na’Veah Matthews also had two hits for the War Eagles, who finished with 11 hits.

The Swamp Foxes didn’t make things easy for the War Eagles, who led 2-0 after two innings. Marion answered with two runs in the third, one coming on Maliyah Williams’ RBI double to tie it at 2-2. It was only the second time in eight playoff games that Gray has given up two or more runs in a game.

But Gray Collegiate benefited from Marion mistakes to take control of the game in the fourth. The War Eagles scored on a passed ball, wild pitch and another error to lead 5-2.

Long and Boudreau each had RBIs in the sixth to make it 8-2.

“It’s tough when everyone expects you to be here,” Frye said. “Last year, we slipped up but I take my hat off to Mid-Carolina. But what a great day for us tonight.”

Class 2A Baseball

Oceanside Collegiate 6, Mid-Carolina 3

Andrew Palmer hit a three-run home run in the first inning as Oceanside swept the best-of-three championship series on the road.

It was the Landsharks’ third straight title, second in a row in 2A. Oceanside will be moving up to 3A next year, the same classification where it won the 2022 championship.

Jake Stefani led Oceanside (24-9) with three hits. Scott Henry and David Ketterman each had two hits and an RBI.

Caden Fragola got the win and Jackson Lanning got the save.

Mid-Carolina ends the season at 24-7. The Rebels were playing in their first championship since 2007 and looking for their first title since 1991.

Murray Johnson led MC with two hits and Brady Davenport hit a solo homer. Davenport’s home run got the Rebels within 4-3 in the fifth. But the Landsharks answered with a run in each of the final two innings.