Abbeville’s Jay Marshall and Bryce Jackson are connected at the hip -- or by the ball, bat and glove, whichever you prefer -- baseball has brought them together.
On a freezing night against a then 3-0 Ware Shoals, the double-play combination played with such a loose and free demeanor, which ultimately led the Panthers to a convincing 11-1 win.
“Jay!” Jackson yells out whenever there’s a ball hit to Marshall at second base. Marshall then returns some words to Jackson at shortstop in a similar fashion: “You got that! That’s easy!” he says as Jackson swiftly records the out at first.
Lighthearted in tone – yes. But there’s also a deeper understanding to it that only a double-play pairing can explain; a feeling and trust that’s forged through years of playing with each other, years of seeing one another make the same play. The two of them certainly can attest to that.
“We’ve always played together growing up in youth leagues (since 7 years old),” Jackson said. “We pick each other up, give each other confidence out there.”
“I just trust my guy,” Marshall said. “Fly ball hit in the air, I trust my guy to catch it. (When) a ground ball (is) hit to my guy, I trust him to catch it. … I have a lot of confidence him.”
People might’ve heard of Jackson before, as he was the standout wide receiver for the Panthers who took home a state title this past fall.
On the baseball field, though – where his athleticism stands out even more – he’s promising as well, stretching singles into extra-base hits while also proving to be a slick fielder.
“They’re athletic guys,” says Abbeville coach Mark Smith regarding his pair who are both juniors. “Bryce has a lot of range at shortstop. He can play deep, can go deep in the hole and has a big-time arm.
“And Jay kind of is a shortstop, too, who we’re playing at second because we’re fortunate to have Bryce. He’s got a strong arm, moves really well, gives us a lot of range because he’s able to make a lot of plays and get to a lot of balls.”
The two aren’t just a one-two punch up the middle but at the plate also, where Marshall batted leadoff against Ware Shoals and Jackson came in behind him.
The juniors’ travel ball team this past summer, the Carolina Spikes, has furthered their camaraderie, which – in turn – has Jackson and Marshall setting their sight on a 2A championship run.
“As long as we go out there and play baseball the way we know, then we’re pretty good,” Marshall said.
With a relationship that was started nearly a decade ago between Jackson and Marshall and a No. 2 Abbeville state ranking, the duo might have a good shot.
“Me and (Jackson) have been playing together for a long time,” Marshall said. “I just want him to have my back like a real teammate should. That’s what he’s been doing and it’s been working.”
Contact staff writer Julian McWilliams at 864-223-1814 or on Twitter@JulianMack105