Gray Collegiate gets boost from Lexington transfer

By Thomas Grant Jr.

The list of concerns head coach Doug Frye has about his Gray Collegiate softball team looks few and far between.  

Through eight played games, the Lady War Eagles are averaging close to 10 runs a contest. They have also posted three shutouts and are holding opponents to less than three runs a game.  

Instead of expressing shock, however, Frye has come to expect this high level of performance from a team two years removed from the Class 2A title.

“Not to be cocky, but yeah,” said Frye following Gray Collegiate’s 13-1 win over Dutch Fork in five innings about his offense. “We have a lot of kids back. We’re deep from one to 18.”

Juniors infielders Maddox Long and Kaley Anderson are among the returning offensive leaders. Freshman Aspen Boulware has also supplied consistent firepower as exhibited by her 4-4, 3 RBI performance against the Lady Silver Foxes.

Adding to Gray Collegiate’s depth both at the plate and on the mound is Lexington High School transfer Mackenzie Mathis. It has not taken long for the senior to adapt to the new surroundings.

“I love it,” she said. “The environment’s great. I wouldn’t say it’s just me, but the team has been very welcoming and opening arms for me. So, I’d say it’s just both parties being very welcoming and understanding of all situations.”

So impressed was Frye of Mathis following their initial meeting that he named her a team captain.

“Mackenzie has come in and done a nice job,” he said. “She came in and she leads and she’s a leading example. You hear a lot of stuff, noise outside of this that’s she’s not a good kid. She’s an amazing kid. She came in August and did all the work. She started running and lifting and she’s been a leader. I named her the leader of our team. I’ve got 10 girls from the ’22 state championship team.”

Mathis has thrown all three shutouts for the Lady War Eagles. In 17 scoreless innings, she has struck out 30 batters and allowed just seven hits.

Frye got even more encouraged about his pitching rotation with the performance of freshman Peyton Hendrix. She struck out 11 and allowed just two hits, both to Allie Boone who homered, in her debut.

Like every other Gray Collegiate team this season, softball has played a strictly non-region schedule as the other teams have forfeited the Region 4-2A title. It continued this past Saturday in Duncan when the Lady War Eagles went 3-1 at the J.F. Byrnes Tournament.  

The lone loss was to Catawba Ridge by a 6-1 score.

Upcoming opponents include Summerville, A.C. Flora, Stratford and rematches with Berkeley and Lugoff-Elgin.

“We’re playing a 5-A schedule right now,” Frye said. “We’ll play anybody,” Frye said. “We’ve always been that way since I’ve been here. I’m not scared. I’ve been beat before. Just put the ball in the circle and let’s play and see what happens.”

“I’m bringing my best,” Mathis said. “Everyone else is bringing their best. With that, I think we’re taking it one game at a time. Honestly, we want to win a state championship but, right now, we’re focusing one game ahead.”