Athlete of the Year: Sharks’ Lane is master of all trades

As one of the few returning starters from St. James’ 2011 Class AAA state baseball championship team, Preston Lane knew he had some big shoes to fill.

After a successful senior season as a pitcher, position player, batter and leader, Lane leaves the Sharks with an even larger pair of empty cleats.

Lane’ss surprisingly strong senior campaign earned him SCBCA All-State and All-Star honors, and the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Year for baseball.

“Everyone knew we had lost those 10 seniors, but no one knew what we had coming up behind them,” Lane said. “I knew we had some good players but we needed some leadership, and I was more than willing to fill that role.”

Lane led the Sharks by example, first and foremost, by excelling on both the mound, in the field and at the plate. He posted a 9-1 record with a 1.50 ERA, striking out 65 batters while walking only 14 in 65 1/3 innings of work.

While playing primarily at shortstop, Lane batted .445 with 37 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 10 doubles and two home runs. He also turned in a solid .941 fielding percentage in the field and was willing to sacrifice playing his primary position.

“Going into the season, I hadn’t planned to pitch that much,” said Lane, who had hoped to attract college attention as an infielder. “But I kept pitching well and we started winning, so I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win.”

And win they did, amassing a 23-7 record and successfully defending the Sharks’ Region VIII-AAA championship. St. James advanced all the way to the Lower State tournament before falling to Chapin, a far cry from where the so-called experts predicted.

“We were picked to finish third or fourth in our region, so to have the kind of season we did was great,” Lane said. “It’s a great feeling to work hard and prove people wrong. We have high expectations at St. James and we wanted to live up to them.”

After helping build a state powerhouse, Lane is off to Division II Wingate College in North Carolina, where he plans to play primarily third base and leave the pitching to his teammates.

“We brought in a great class of pitchers so hopefully I’ll be able to focus on third base,” Lane said. ” I may play some second too, and if they need me to come out of the bullpen in a pinch I will.”

In college just like high school, Lane’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team, and do it well.

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