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Thursday, 11 May 2017 17:17

Hickert LNC's proven two-sport star

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Grayson Hickert is 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA this season. He is also the LNC basketball program's all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Grayson Hickert is 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA this season. He is also the LNC basketball program's all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Justin Parker; Ben Coon

Grayson Hickert towers over most baseball players, and that’s before the Lake Norman Charter senior even steps onto the mound.

Then he's really an imposing figure at 6-foot-7.

“When he works downhill, he looks like he’s 7-2,” says LNC coach Josh Russell.

Hickert did a little bit of everything — pitching, fielding, hitting — during LNC’s 7-0 win over Polk County in the first round of the 2A state playoffs Wednesday. Given that he has starred in two sports throughout his high school career, it was fitting that he played baseball on the day the school celebrated his commitment to play college basketball at Wofford.

At times, choosing which sport to pursue at the next level has been difficult for Hickert, who finished as LNC’s all-time leader in points (1,268), rebounds (675) and blocks (185). He hit a wall in baseball, then his priority, the summer after his sophomore year. He felt himself pressing, and he wasn’t getting any better. But about the same time, he hit his stride on the hardwood.

“I just kind of fell in love with basketball,” says Hickert. “It’s ironic because since I fell in love with basketball, I took the pressure off in baseball and everything came so much easier.”

Hickert, whose father Pat played basketball at Davidson in the 1970s, had scholarship offers from a number of smaller basketball programs, including Division II Catawba. But he chose to attend Wofford as a preferred walk-on in coach Mike Young’s Southern Conference program. He intends to work like crazy to be a factor in Spartanburg.

“It’s a spot,” says Hickert. “I got my foot in the door.”

He is still not shutting the door on baseball, though he’s unsure whether he will pursue it at Wofford. This year, he’s leading LNC with 18 RBIs, while hitting .333. He has nine doubles, one of the team’s two triples and is tied with catcher Ryan Farkas with a team-best three home runs. On the mound, he’s 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA, 42 strikeouts and three saves in 40.2 innings.

“He could go play baseball,” says Russell. “Any time he pitches for us, we feel like we have the upper hand. He’s been really consistent, has only gotten better as the season has gone on.”

Against Polk, Hickert threw four innings, struck out four, walked three and allowed two hits. He started a 1-6-3 double play in the second inning, and after throwing a wild pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, he got out of the jam by rushing to home plate to tag out runner Evan Rimer after Farkas tracked down the ball. He played the final three innings at first base — where he presents a large target for his fellow infielders — and started a 3-6-1 double play to end the game. He was 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Even if Hickert decides to step onto the diamond down the road, he’s treating this postseason like it's the last hurrah.

“You’ve got to be in that mentality to win in the playoffs,” he says.

LNC (16-7) hosts Smoky Mountain in Saturday’s second round at Huntersville Athletic Park. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

161130 LNC v Hough 24

1 comment

  • Comment Link Jon Friday, 19 May 2017 20:07 posted by Jon

    Wofford is a great school, and Grayson looks like a fine player. Good match.