Darren Doyle, story and photos:
The Wildcats fell behind early last night against Grayson County in the first round of the District 12 Tournament and despite a valiant comeback effort, they were unable to claw their way back in the 5-3 loss to the Cougars.
Senior Dylan Waldrop, who last week signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Union College, started on the mound, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits in 1.2 innings. Coach Bo West said that Waldrop was prepared and locating his pitches, the fact of the matter was that Grayson stepped up and made some big hits.
"Dylan was ready to go," said West. "If anything, maybe he was a little too amped, but sometimes this just happens. You just have to credit Grayson, they hit."
Edmonson County fell behind early, 5-1 after two innings, but in spite of Waldrop giving up early runs, he was a constant driving force behind his team throughout the game, never dropping his head. In the top of the third with two men on, he ripped one up the right field line for a two-run double to make things 5-3. He was thrown out at third trying to stretch the play into a triple. He went 1-2 with 2 RBI and one walk.
"Our guys hung in there and they fought," said West. "We've had our ups and downs through all this year, but I know that even when we may not have had the best talent on the field, we always had the best effort, always."
Senior Walker Hazel came in to pitch 4.1 scoreless innings in relief, giving up only one hit, no walks, and 5 Ks.
"Walker came in relaxed and he was comfortable," West said. "He's been a workhorse all year long. Can't say enough about him."
The Wildcats had opportunities throughout the rest of the game but couldn't muster up any more runs. One highlight of the night was when Wildcat left fielder Chaz Wilson, an 8th grader, caught a deep flyball for an out near the wall in the bottom of the 5th. Grayson County's Hunter Young tagged from third in an attempt to score but Wilson's perfect throw from deep left nailed him at the plate as senior catcher Hunter Garrett tagged out Young.
Other offensive contributors for the Wildcats were Logan Minton 1-4, Caleb Skaggs 1-1, 2BB, and Nick Clemmons was 1-3.
Coach West reflected on the season as a whole. "We started out really hot at 8-1, then we hit the bottom. It took us a few games to re-find ourselves. But one thing's for sure: this team had grit. They never gave up at any time, and we always had a chance to win."
The Wildcats finish the season 13-10. "I really love these guys," West added. "This isn't how we want to end, but I'm still very proud of this team."