Sports briefs for June 15th-21st

7 mins read

COLLEGE SOFTBALL

Cook completes sophomore season

Beaufort High School graduate Mari Cook completed her sophomore season with the University of South Carolina Beaufort softball program earlier in the spring.

Prior to coming back home to Beaufort to attend USCB, Cook attended Coastal Carolina University.

The University of South Carolina Beaufort softball team concluded the 2017 season 26-24. The Sand Sharks lost to Southeastern in the Sun Conference championship game at PFX Athletics in Clermont, Fla. on May 5. 

Cook is an infielder. The Beaufort High School graduate and her University of South Carolina Beaufort teammates will enter the 2018 season early next year.

PRO BASEBALL

Wojciechowski earns first major league win

Beaufort High School graduate Asher Wojciechowski earned his first major league win on May 20 as his team, the Cincinnati Reds, defeated the Colorado Rockies, 12-8.

The Beaufort High School graduate was signed as a free agent on April 21 and assigned to Triple-A Louisville’s rotation. He was called up to help the Reds’ bullpen and immediately did just that. A product of The Citadel, Wojciechowski pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings while retiring his first 11 batters in a row for his first big league win.

Since earning his first big league victory, Wojciechowski has moved into the Reds’ starting rotation. He is the 10th different pitcher to start for the Reds in the 2017.

Wojciechowski made his Major League Baseball debut for the Houston Astros in 2015. 

After graduating from high school, Wojciechowski enrolled at The Citadel, choosing it over Winthrop University. He competed for the United States national baseball team in the summer of 2009. In 2010, Wojciechowski was named the Southern Conference’s pitcher of the year.

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Wojciechowski in the first round, with the 41st overall selection, of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

PRO FOOTBALL

Taylor signs with New York Giants 

Defensive end Devin Taylor, a Beaufort native, has signed with the New York Giants. 

A Beaufort High School graduate, Taylor was a starter for the Detroit Lions last season. 

Taylor, 27, started 16 games for the Detroit Lions in the previous NFL campaign. He had 28 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his first year as a starter for the Lions. Taylor was a reserve defensive end for most of his four years with the Lions.

Prior to playing for the Lions, Taylor was a standout at the University of South Carolina. Taylor was a fourth round pick (132nd overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Before college, Taylor helped lead Beaufort High School to the Class AAAA state championship game his senior year. He recorded 110 tackles with 10 quarterback sacks and 19 tackles for a loss during his senior campaign. Taylor was recognized with first-team all-state selections from the Associated Press and The State. He recorded 80 tackles and four sacks as a junior. An outstanding athlete, Taylor also lettered in basketball and track and field. As a senior, he won the Class 4A state title in the triple jump with a leap of 48 feet, 3 inches.

Saxon headed into fourth season with Steelers

Beaufort native James Saxon is headed into his fourth season as the running backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, after being hired on Jan. 28, 2014. The Beaufort native broke into the NFL as a player in 1988. 

In his 17 years as an NFL running backs coach, Saxon has helped his backs reach the Pro Bowl 12 times. He has had a running back surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a single season nine times.

After returning from an injury, Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell rushed 261 times for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2015, Bell was lost for the season due to a knee injury he sustained in Week 8. Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams contributed in a big way, as he totaled 1,274 scrimmage yards and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns. He was the only AFC player to register at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and at least 10 rushing touchdowns. Williams tied the single-game franchise record by rushing for three touchdowns in Week 2 versus San Francisco.

After Williams suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the postseason, backup running backs Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint contributed in the postseason, combining for 230 scrimmage yards in two games.

Saxon coached Bell to a breakout season in just his second year in the league in 2014. Bell was named Steelers’ MVP, and he set numerous single-season records, including yards from scrimmage (2,215), first downs (114), receptions by a running back (83) and receiving yards by a running back (854). He became the first player since Walter Payton (1976) to total at least 200 yards from scrimmage in three straight games.  

Bell rushed for an AFC-best 1,361 yards in 2014, the fifth-highest total in a single season in team history.  He also became just the second player in NFL history to record at least 1,350 rushing yards and 850 receiving yards in a single season (Marshall Faulk, 1999). In games 11-14, Bell totaled 830 yards from scrimmage, which tied him for the fourth-most in a four-game span in NFL history.

In 2012, Saxon helped guide Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to the second-best single-season rushing performance in NFL history with 2,097 yards and a first-team All-Pro selection. That year, Peterson became only the third player in Minnesota history to be named NFL MVP and was also named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Peterson set or tied numerous team and league records in 2012, including the most rushing yards in the month of December (861) in NFL history.

Saxon attended Battery Creek High School. He is married to Shannon and their son, Devin, played football at Harvard.

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