South Charlotte

2011 a strong season for local favorites

In recent history, Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Christian and Providence High have dominated the headlines, but this year they had to share the spotlight.

While no local team won a state title, Charlotte Country Day was in the NCISAA 3A state championship series, falling to Forsyth Country Day two games to none, and won the Charlotte Independent School Athletic Association title for the first time in more than a decade.

Charlotte Christian (21-8) and Charlotte Latin (9-17) both made it to the second round of the playoffs before losing, while Providence Day lost in the opening round of the NCISAA 3A postseason.

Providence High (25-3) dominated the Southwestern 4A regular season, winning its third consecutive SW4A regular-season title and second straight league tournament. But for the second straight year, the Panthers faltered early in the playoffs, losing to Northwest Guilford in the second round.

Ardrey Kell (24-5) had another standout season in 2011 and made it to the sectional final (fourth round) before losing to Southeast Guilford.

South Mecklenburg (16-10) and East Mecklenburg (14-12) also had solid seasons in a loaded SW4A conference before losing in the first round of the 4A playoffs.

Charlotte Catholic (19-4) won its third straight conference title (tied with West Mecklenburg) and advanced to the third round of the playoffs before losing to Marvin Ridge.

Coach of the Year: Mike Hennessey, Charlotte Country Day. In five years under Hennessey, the Charlotte Country Day baseball team has gotten better nearly every season.

This year, Hennessey and the Bucs (21-6) had a banner year, winning not only their first CISAA conference title in more than a decade but getting to the state championship series before finishing as NCISAA 3A runner-up.

Hennessey (103-62) also registered the 100th victory of his career this season.

Player of the Year: Brett Austin, Providence High. While most high school student-athletes prepare for college, Austin is going to summer school at N.C. State while trying to decide whether he will stay with the Wolfpack for at least the next three years or take a seven-figure signing bonus to follow his dream of playing professional baseball.

Austin, who signed with N.C. State, was picked in the compensatory first round - No. 54 overall - by the San Diego Padres in June.

The South Charlotte News and Charlotte Observer baseball player of the year hit .537 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs to help Providence to a 25-3 record.

Pitcher of the Year: Trent Thornton, Ardrey Kell. Thornton, who has committed to North Carolina, had a solid year, going 8-3 on the mound with a 2.16 earned-run average, including 79 strikeouts in little more than 58 innings of work. Thornton, who allowed only a .208 batting average for opponents, also had four complete games and two saves.

Thornton was huge at the plate as well, batting .402 with eight home runs, 33 RBIs and 11 doubles.