Athlete of the Week: Braves get a big lift from Nicholson

The Socastee High baseball team is experiencing a breakout season this spring, and no player epitomizes that turnaround than Charlie Nicholson.

The Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week entered his senior year coming off of shoulder surgery that greatly inhibited his swing.

To make matters worse, S.C. high school baseball switched to new bats that greatly curtail the speed at which the ball comes off the bat.

But like his teammates, the Braves have overcome all obstacles this season to get off to a 9-3 start with a perfect 8-0 record in Region VIII-AAA, perhaps the toughest region in the state.

“Last year we didn’t even make the playoffs,” Nicholson said. “We had a lot of young arms but this year our pitching is great. We worked hard in the offseason and this year everyone came back bigger, stronger and faster.”

And more determined. Like Nicholson, who also had lots of rehab to get back in playinng shape, the Braves have matured into a legitimate contender.

“I couldn’t swing the bat for like four months after the surgery, but I started working hard and I think I’ve fixed a few things in my swing.”

Yeah, buddy. Nicholson currently leads the team in batting average (.633), RBIs (16), home runs (4) and on-base percentage (.676). His slugging percentage is an insane 1.100.

But perhaps more impressive is his work in the classroom. Nicholson ranks 16th in his class of more than 350 and takes honors classes in the school’s International Baccalaureate program.

“Charlie is a very hard worker in the classroom and on the field,” Socastee coach Michael Morris said. “He is in the IB program at Socastee. He is our three-hole hitter with bigtime power and good running speed.”

Nicholson also has three stolen bases in four attempts, but it’s his upward mobility with the bat that has the Braves atop the region standings.

That’s in a league that includes Lower State runner-up Myrtle Beach and defending state champion St. James, which Socastee defeated 11-3 last week.

Nicholson went a perfect 4-for-4 with six RBIs at the plate against the Sharks. He hit two homers, including a grand slam in the battle for first place.

“We got behind by a couple of runs but we battled back hard and won pretty big,” Nicholson said. “That’s when I really started thinking we’ve got a shot to do some big things.”

A region crown is the immediate goal, but this is Nicholson’s last shot to aim even higher this season. He has  received interest from college scouts but may choose to focus on academics at the next level.

“This is my last chance, so it would be nice to go out with a ring,” he said. “We’ve just got to stay focused on getting better and see how far it takes us.”

Photo by Owens Designs

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