USC Aiken head softball coach Jerry Snyder hopes the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports continues to have the annual softball all-star series in Aiken, for the rest of his career. The 29th annual CAWS All-Star Softball Series had much to offer to the local fans. Not only did they get a chance to watch some of the best talent from around the state compete, but there were participants from area high schools on display, as well.

The championship game of the series, which featured the A/AAAA North team taking on the AA/AAA North squad, consisted of even more intriguing storylines. The A/AAAA all-stars came away with a 2-1 victory. Local standouts Brielle Busbee and Jenna Starnes of Wagener-Salley were on display, doing battle against Class AA State player of the year and USCA commit Brittany Hoskins.

Midway through the contest, A/AAAA coach Chuck Stegall from Fort Mill turned to his team and said, “told you this game wouldn’t be decided by the big bats.”

He was right.

Most of the game was highlighted by pitching and defense. Savannah Farrell and Hoskins were pitching lights out for the AA/AAA team, while Sarah Stewart and Taylor Cabe did the same for the A/AAAA side.

Boiling Springs’ Kaitlyn Jacoby made a pair of impressive defensive plays to help keep the A/AAAA in the game.

The game came down to a rally by the A/AAAA in the bottom of the seventh started by a pair of hits, including one by Starnes. After she alertly stole second base, she scored the winning run when the AA/AAA center fielder mishandled a deep fly ball on the potential final out of the game. The tightly contested game highlighted what USCA head coach Jerry Snyder loves about hosting the tournament.

“You get to see some of the best senior players in the state of South Carolina. It’s great,” Snyder said. “We have them here on our campus for three days, and we’re very appreciative that they allow us to do that.”

Snyder was also excited to see two USCA commits participating in the series in Hoskins and Maddy Labrador. Hoskins was en route to completing the shutout before the seventh-inning rally. However, she still walked away from the series as the AA/AAA North team’s MVP.

“It’s great when they make the announcements of where these kids are going to school. These are the best players in the state so it’s good to hear some of them are coming to USCA,” Snyder said.

Hoskins, a member of the AA state champion Crescent Tigers, was thrilled to be able to perform so well over the two days in the place she’ll call home for the next four years.

“It was really, really special, especially since this is where I’m coming for school next year,” Hoskins said of doing so well at J.H. Satcher Field. “It meant so much. I hope it proves to the coaches that I’m capable.”

Hoskins added that the time spent at the all-star event has prepared here for the next level in many ways. She got acclimated to the campus a little bit and got a chance to meet with some of her teammates. Snyder even said they have Hoskins and Labrador’s lockers set up in the locker room. The experience has left Hoskins with an optimistic outlook for her future as a Pacer.

“Of course I’ve got to work hard, grades first and stuff. As far as softball goes, I’ve met a lot of the girls and they seem cool and fun, so I think I’m going to enjoy it and expect a lot of good things to come from us.”

Snyder shares that optimism about her, the others in the incoming class and the team in general. He has added six members to a roster with several key players returning. Snyder said the recruiting class has a good mix of high school seniors and junior college kids and expects the team to perform well.

“We’re ready to get started. I’m biting at the bit to get (the team) back here because I’m expecting a good year,”

Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from USC Aiken in 2012 with a degree in communications.