Josh Kubisz can remember when the good old days of Philip Simmons High School baseball weren’t so good.
In 2018, Kubisz started the program and vividly remembers the first workout. There were only six student-athletes stretching in the school’s gym that late winter day. That’s not even enough players to field a team, unless you play without outfielders.
But the program expanded. Kubisz kept coaching and recruiting at the school, and the prospective baseball players were sold on his prediction of success.
Three years later, on April 23, the Iron Horses claimed
the Region 6-AA championship with a 6-2 victory over Woodland.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” Kubisz posted on Facebook. “I’m so proud of my guys I can hardly come up with the words… Job’s not done but I’m enjoying this one tonight.”
The Iron Horses are 9-7 overall, and 4-0 in Region 6-AA with Colleton County scheduled for May 4. Kubisz is trying to find one more game before the Class AA playoffs begin on May 15, but has struck out in that attempt.
Other than that, it has been a tremendous season.
“Any time you win the region, it’s a great accomplishment,” Kubisz said. “But winning it a year after COVID is very special. We worked together, stayed together when other teams couldn’t. We were fortunate.”
“Last year was brutal for our lone senior, Logan Baskin,” Kubisz continued. “Not having a junior season last year for our seniors could have been critical because it is such a developmental year. But the four seniors have helped keep everything together. They lead the workouts, the practices and the mentality for them has been ‘Region championship or bust.’ ”
The seniors on the 2021 team include lefty pitcher Mitchell McCormick, outfielder Drake Nesbitt, shortstop Max Bailey and outfielder Tyler Harper.
The seniors don’t have a monopoly on the Iron Horse talent. Outfielder Nolan Keifer hits in the No. 2 spot and has a .400 on-base percentage. Sophomore Grayson Mitchell, who pays third and pitches, is batting over .400 as is junior catcher Tripp Williams. Williams also has 22 RBI.
Junior right-handed pitcher Tristan Skipper has allowed only one run in his last two starts while junior righty Ty Peterson has allowed only two runs in his last two starts.
Kubisz, a 2008 Goose Creek High School graduate, played in high school and in college. He enrolled at Newberry College and finished out at Penn State University Allegheny.
He returned to Goose Creek in 2013 as an assistant, and was named coach at Philip Simmons when the school opened.
Now, he’s ready to take the Iron Horses to the next level.
“First and foremost, we are a family,” Kubisz said. “They play together, eat together and hang out together. They have the mental toughness to stick it out through the pandemic. Now, we are expected to keep growing. We won the region this year. But the pressure will be there to go one step further. We just have to keep moving forward.”