Laurens District 55 Varsity Raider Baseball Unites Community with Championship Win

May 19, 2024

The Laurens District 55 High School (LDHS) Varsity Raider Baseball team clinched the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) Class AAAA 2024 Upper State Championship last week. In a thrilling 7-6 victory over Easley High School, the team advanced to the state title series. They will compete in a best-of-three showdown for the SCHSL State Title on Monday, May 20, 2024. Depending on the outcomes of the Lower State Championships, the Raiders will head to either James Island in Charleston or Myrtle Beach. Game schedules are yet to be released, but Coach Ketorius “Tori” Patterson expects the games to start around 6:30 PM.

With a remarkable 26-6 record this season, Coach Patterson expressed no surprise at the team’s success. “It has been a long five-month journey, and we set a goal at the start of the season to win and bring the State Championship title back to Laurens,” said Patterson. “We are here because our guys came together. We pitched every game, and we knew we could win.”

Patterson’s extensive baseball experience includes playing second and third base for Florence Darlington Technical College for two years and Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia, for a year. He has been with Laurens County School District 55 (LCSD 55) for eleven years as a member of the maintenance staff and has coached the Varsity Raider Baseball team for seven years. LCSD 55 Athletics Director Tommy Spires commended Patterson for his dedication and leadership.

“Seven years ago was a challenging time when we handed the Baseball Program over to Tori. He worked tirelessly to develop the program, and through the years, his efforts have paid off. Tori has grown, matured, and become an excellent leader,” said Spires.

Coach Patterson attributed part of their success to the addition of a pitching coach. “One of the reasons we are heading to the State Championships is because we hired a pitching coach. Assistant Coach Hunter Norris is a great asset to our team. He is a great coach, and the kids love him,” said Patterson.

The coaching staff includes Assistant Coaches Cody Smith, Hammer Walker, David Owens, Alen Staton, Kiantae Boyd, Brad Sheppard, and Di’Markus Sanders. The student-athletes are Samuel Adams, Jireh Brown, Coleman Coker, Preston Dixon, Bennett Edwards, Josh Goodwin, Asher Goss, Seth Hill, Jordan Hudson, Josh Hughes, Grayson Ledford, Avery Madden, Hunter Nabors, Brayden Patterson, Ryland Paxton, Owen Pridgen, Zay Pulley, Miles Ray, Connor Rice, Bryant Smith, Landon Trevino, Zee Williams, Ben Willis, and Braden Yarbrough.

LDHS Junior and Center Fielder Zay Pulley, a three-year team member, reflected on the season. “This year, I put more effort and took practice more seriously,” said Pulley. “We engaged in team bonding and became closer, which played a significant role in making it to the State Championships.”

Junior Catcher Bennett Edward echoed Pulley’s sentiments about the team’s camaraderie. “We stay after practice and do our best to help each other. Coach Patterson has been like a father to us, providing great energy and knowledge. I’m so glad he led us to where we are. It’s a great feeling to make it to the State Championships.”

Coach Patterson highlighted the broader importance of baseball. “Baseball teaches life lessons and helps young men grow on and off the field. I enjoy coaching these young men and am blessed with a great group of very coachable players. They work hard every day to get better.”

LCSD 55 Co-Interim Superintendent Dr. Jody Penland praised the team’s efforts. “Their win is a testament to their hard work and the integrity and work ethic Coach Patterson instills in his students. I thank the fan base and the community for their support.”

LDHS Principal Lewis Compton shared his pride in the team’s dedication. “Their accomplishment is the fulfillment of many years of hard work. We are proud to see it come together for the coaches and athletes.”

Coach Spires also lauded the team’s impact on the community. “They have created a sense of togetherness for the Laurens community. Athletics is a powerful tool in education, and I advocate for that.”

Parent Turk Terhune and community member Brian Gassie emphasized the positive influence of the team’s success. “Going to the State Championship is a huge accomplishment,” said Terhune. “It shows the Laurens Community how hard work and believing in yourself can lead to success.”

Gassie added, “It has brought great pride to our school and community. I haven’t seen this much support since 2005.”

The Laurens Community is invited to gather at Laurens Square on West Main Street, starting at Laurens Drug, on Monday between 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM to join the State Championship send-off for the Raider Varsity Baseball Team.