Here’s something to ponder as the 2021 high school baseball season approaches in the Palmetto State. The Bishop England baseball team was denied a shot at its fourth consecutive state championship last spring as the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of the spring sports season.
Now, the Bishops begin the 2021 season as the No. 1 Class AAA team in the state, according to the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association’s preseason poll.
What if the Bishops win yet another state crown? Will it be four in a row? Or will it be four in a row with an asterisk? It’s an important question for posterity’s sake. Four consecutive state titles will land you at No. 5 in the state’s all-time list of consecutive state baseball titles. Five straight titles will put you in a tie for No. 2 on South Carolina’s all-time list.
Either way, BE coach Mike Darnell says what happened last year will not affect the team as the Bishops, loaded with college signees, prepare for the 2021 season.
“I don't think last year will have much influence on how our guys approach this year,” Darnell said. “The goal is always the same, and we plan on preparing the same way we do every year.”
Last January, Bishop England was selected the Class AAA program of the decade by diamondprospects.com as the Bishops won four state titles from 2010-19, including three in a row from 2017-19, posting a 79-20 record during the stretch.
But then the pandemic took off and the season was shuttered. Now, expectations are high among the BE faithful with a returning lineup that features some top-of-the-line pitching yet little game experience since 2020 was a wash. Expectations are always high when the Bishops begin the season in the top spot. But Darnell puts the lofty ranking in perspective.
“I know this is coach talk, but preseason rankings really don't mean much,” Darnell said. “They are indicative of how you did the previous season. The last full season we had was a state championship, so I assume that is what it is based off.”
The Bishops’ schedule features a list of heavyweights. But like the winter sports season, spring sports could be disrupted by the pandemic. Darnell knows it. His players know it as well.
“It is something we will talk about today at our first practice and then probably not again until it happens,” Darnell said. “At this point, it is almost inevitable that at least one of our spring sports will get shut down at some point. We will do everything possible to avoid it, but everyone knows it could happen.”
The Bishops currently have 13 players on the roster, “so with 13 guys, everyone becomes a key player,” Darnell added.
Seniors include Quinn Dewitt, Thomas Regan, Shane Snyder, Campbell Brusman, Sean Hollister, Chase Loggins and Daniel Brooks.
Brooks, a dominant right-handed pitcher, has signed to play with the College of Charleston. Hollister, another pitcher, will play for Presbyterian. Loggins, who is also a pitcher, will play for The Citadel.