Lee Hatfield grew up playing baseball and was a pretty good all-around player. However, there was one place on the field he longed to be more than any other.
"I liked being on the mound; that's where I had fun," Hatfield said. "That's where I was comfortable."
Opposing batters, however, were not comfortable when Hatfield toed the rubber. Hatfield was a dominating right-hander for Sumter High School in the mid 1990s, helping lead the Gamecocks to a 4A state runner-up finish in '93.
Because of his accomplishments, Hatfield will be one of four people inducted into the SHS Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday at a banquet at the SHS Commons Area beginning at 6:30 p.m.
"It's a great honor," Hatfield said about his selection. "It was a wonderful phone call to get. I put a lot of hard work (into baseball). Of course, I had my teammates backing me up on defense the whole time. It's just a real great honor."
As a sophomore in '93, Hatfield went 14-2 with three shutouts, 10 complete games and a 1.71 earned run average. He had 108 strikeouts in 95 innings pitched. He was "only" 7-3 as a junior, but had a 1.39 ERA with three shutouts and seven complete games.
During his senior season, Hatfield was 10-3 with an ERA around 1.20. That's a 31-8 record with a sub-1.50 ERA for his career.
Hatfield said he liked to be the man getting the baseball in clutch games.
"I always wanted the ball," Hatfield said. "When it was a big game, I always wanted it to be where the team would give it to me.
"I always liked being in the big situations; I think that was one of the things I did good," he added. "I didn't back down, I didn't let things get to me. I think that's one of the reasons why I won a lot of ball games,"
As his earned run average would attest, Hatfield thought if he got some offensive support, he and the Gamecocks were going to win.
"I always felt like if we scored two or three runs in a game, we were going to win the game," he said. "I just tried to be a bulldog out there."
Hatfield said playing on the '93 and '94 teams as a sophomore and junior were "probably two of the best years of my life." Sumter was loaded with talent such as Randy Goodroe, Bo Betchman, Carl Baker Jr., Ontrell McCray, Chad Hoshour, Scott Thompkins and Bert Beatson.
"All of us being able to get together that was so much fun," Hatfield. "Those teams were probably the best I played on, including college. We were expected to win, and we did a pretty good job of it."