Darlington High School baseball
Joe Kolodjiec is entering his third year at the helm of the Darlington Falcons baseball team. He is assisted by Barry Brown, Holden Carter, Roy Harrell and Mason Matthews.
This group of coaches faces the challenge of rebuilding after the heavy losses due to the graduation of Bryant Dickerson, Tyler Berry, Lex Blackmon and Karson Norris. In addition, two other starters from the 2021 season have transferred to other high schools.
In a 2022 lineup that will include only six players from last year’s squad, the Falcons will have to rely on those players as well as seven that have moved up from the Junior Varsity team from last year. In addition, Darlington is now home for junior transfer Milijah Holt, who will man the third base position.
Moving from there around the infield, junior Shemar Simes will get the call at shortstop, junior Chase Watson will be Simes’ double-play partner at second, and DeMarco Hannah will reside at first base. The outfield shows junior Chuck Keith in left, senior TJ Hankins in center, and Emanuel Pendergrass in right. Senior Michael Mills has the inside edge to serve as designated hitter.
On the mound, Kolodjiec will rely on Simes, junior Ashley Avin, sophomore Gage McKenzie and Holt. Avin is the super utility player, filling in around the infield when the primary position player gets the call to pitch. McKenzie is the starting catcher when not toeing the rubber and is backed up by Avin when he does take the mound.
Senior Trevor Howie is the fourth outfielder when needed. A host of juniors are still competing for playing time in Bryson Brill, Caleb Clark, James Milton and Eli Steele.
Darlington is looking to improve on last year’s 10-12 mark after missing the playoffs to a very tough Class 4A, Region 6 field. The St. John’s Blue Devils won state championships in 1984 and 1995 and were runner-up in 1983 and 1989.
The alumni list of St. John’s/Darlington is headed by Orlando Hudson, who earned four Gold Gloves (best defender) at second base in his major league career. Other notable alumni who played at the minor league level include Billy Sylvester, Quentin Davis, and Kennard McDowell.
— Don Gearhart