To say that Christin Stewart
is a feared batter would be an understatement.
During a three-game series this week, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior catcher/first baseman from Providence Christian Academy (Lilburn, Ga.)
drew eight walks - seven of them intentional.
The good news is that the Stars (27-12) won their first Class A state baseball championship. The bad news is that the University of Tennessee recruit was denied an opportunity to be the sole state record holder for career home runs. He remained tied for the record of 69 with current San Diego Padres player Micah Owings. The national record is 75.
Stewart, who also was hit twice and officially was 0-2, told the Gwinnett Daily Post, "I'd rather have the ring any day. Helping the team out any way I can - it's all about the team. I love my teammates. They're the best."
After being delayed for several days by the effects of Tropical Storm Beryl, the Stars promptly lost their opener 6-3 to Charlton County (Folkston, Ga.)
behind the pitching of Chris Smith
(15-2), who also slammed a two-run homer. However, they bounced back in the nightcap of the doubleheader with a 15-8 victory.
That set the stage for the title game the following day and this time there was no doubt as Providence rolled to an 11-1 victory in just six innings.The Stars, who were second in the state last year and a semifinalist in 2008, were led by Austin Golden
(three-run homer) and Erich Stahl
Providence coach Adam Cantrell was unfazed by the flurry of walks to Stewart, who also led the team in stolen bases.
He told MaxPreps, "We actually faced that quite a bit this year. We certainly had people put him on three or four times in a game. You just can't worry about it. As good of a ballplayer as he is, we are not dependent on him to win games. He struggled with that at the beginning of the year. He finally realized it wasn't going to help him or our team."
Cantrell, who is a Providence graduate, said the title "feels great. I've been waiting a long time to watch a Providence boys team win a state championship.
Besides the graduation of some outstanding players, Providence will have a new look next year when its mascot is renamed the "Storm."
* Darian Tautalafua
was in a situation similar to Stewart. The Carson (Calif.)
softball slugger had tied the state record for career home runs (53), but was shut out (0-3) during a 5-0 loss to El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, Calif.)
for the Los Angeles City Section Division I championship.