Bobby Henderson sat at his desk in his math classroom at North Myrtle Beach High School last Friday and talked about how he got to be the girls varsity softball coach and what he hopes to accomplish this spring.
Henderson stated that he was from the Spartanburg area originally and began his softball coaching career at North High School in Orangeburg where he coached softball and volleyball. His coaching and teaching travels led him to Spring Valley High School, Irmo and then AC Flora, before he got the job at North Myrtle Beach. As Henderson put it, “I found heaven and came here. It’s one of the best places I’ve been. It’s been wonderful, a blessing and I love this place,” Henderson said.
Henderson stated that when he’s not teaching math or coaching softball, he loves to follow the South Carolina Gamecocks, which is evidenced by the Gamecock flag on the wall behind his desk. He stated that he was in his third year at the school and on the softball field. “I have had two full seasons and this is the third one coming up. We had a lot of talent the first year but they didn’t gel as a team. We got into the playoffs but didn’t play up to our potential,” he said.
“We lost six seniors after that first year but we brought back the nucleus of a good team. We made it to the district championship last year but lost to Darlington by one run in extra innings. This year we lost one starting senior but retained all our players and I am very optimistic about our chances,” Henderson said.
Henderson stated he has a lot of talent and starts by building around pitching and catching. “Our ace pitcher is Lauren Hilburn, a sophomore who started for us last year and did a great job. Our number two pitcher is junior Presley Minnick. She has done well in our two scrimmages this year, mixing up her speeds and keeping batters off balance. Our third pitcher, Savana Rubledo, is out with a broken hand but should be back in a couple of weeks,” Henderson said.
When I asked coach Henderson about his offense, he said “we have four or five girls who can put it over the fence. Briana Jenkins hit a home run in each of our scrimmages and the other girls have the potential,” he said.
Henderson stated the 6AAAA region was strong. “Hartsville was last year’s state champion and we played them hard last year. They are tough. Then Darlington will be back. Wilson is tough for us. I thought we were better than them last year, but we couldn’t get by them. Myrtle Beach will be a tough opponent also. One problem we had last year was our inability to hold a lead. The games we lost last year, we need to win those this year,” he said.
Henderson feels his team’s strength is its cohesiveness. ”We really are more like a family. They care about each other. I stress that we will play the best players, but everyone has to work hard and play together. Nothing is easy. Nothing is guaranteed,” Henderson said.
Henderson stated his team was young but filled with potential. “We have two good catchers, Taylor McDowell who also plays third base, and Macie Prince who catches and plays the outfield. Andie Crimminger is a solid shortstop for us. She is a senior who injured her knee last year and is back. We were really young last year. With maturity and the ability to handle the pressure, we can win,” Henderson said.
Henderson started practice on Feb. 3 but the players started working out in December and some played summer ball. Like most coaches in the area, the weather has hampered their preparations. “We still meet, set goals, watch film, practice indoors if we can and try to have productive days. We will be hitting in the batting cage today since the field is too wet,” he said.
Looking ahead to Monday’s game with Loris and Tuesday’s away game at Marlboro County, Henderson said he was “excited.” I am hungry for the season to start. I see potential here and I am excited to get going. We have to stay healthy, improve over last year and get better every day. We have good players and I know the talent is here and they have worked hard every day. I really think it could be a special season,” Henderson said.
Henderson also stated that the team will dedicate their season to the former assistant coach and pitching coach Stephanie Cassell, who recently passed away.