By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
When Southwestern is hitting the ball solid, they are a very dangerous baseball team.
Wayne County received a first-hand look at just how much damage the Southwestern bats can do on Tuesday evening at Warrior Stadium, as the homestanding Warriors tallied 14 runs on 16 hits in a 14-9 victory over the Cardinals in the 48th District Baseball Championship game.
Of the Warriors’ 16 hits in the game, six were for extra bases (five doubles and one triple). Six of the nine Southwestern batters who stepped to the plate had at least one hit, while five of those six batters had at least two hits in the five-run win.
Southwestern head coach Alex Eaton, who with the victory, tallied his second district title in his third opportunity, was more than thrilled with his team’s performance at the plate by all nine batters who stepped in the batter’s box.
“I think we had two bad at-bats all-game long, and if we do that from this point forward, we’ll be in every game,” began Eaton. “Offensively we were just about perfect - I couldn’t ask anything else from them. All the way through the line-up, we had guys step-up with big hits every inning.”
‘Team Trevor’ led the charge for the Warriors at the dish, as freshman Trevor Howard and junior Trevor Stacey combined for nine of Southwestern’s 16 total hits. Trevor Howard went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate, which included two doubles and three RBI’s. Stacey, who had four hits on the night, had a game-high four RBI’s and a pair of doubles.
Thomas Howard, a senior, chimed in with three hits and two RBI’s. Freshman Vincent Boils and Lucas Turpin both had two hits apiece in the five-run victory. Boils had two RBI’s and a triple, while Turpin had an RBI and a double.
Southwestern looked to be the early favorite in the game after jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the first inning. The Wayne County Cardinals didn’t lay down after taking an early blow by the Warriors, as they plated four runs in the top half of the second frame to tie the ballgame up at five apiece.
The Warriors broke the 5-5 tie in the bottom of the second inning when senior Logan Starnes scored on a double from Trevor Howard. An two-run double from Stacey and an RBI single from Trevor Howard in the following frame would put Southwestern out front by an 9-5 margin.
Despite the Cardinals plating two runs in both the fifth and seventh innings, the Warriors were able to do enough to stay out front, as they plated one run in the fourth and two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to win by a final tally of 14-9.
Starnes, who had eight strikeouts in the first four innings, earned the victory for Southwestern. Trevor Howard, along with finishing a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate, earned the save. Jacob Burchett, a sophomore, finished out the game for the 'Blue and Orange.'
Southwestern, who won their first district title since the 2011 campaign, earned the district championship with hard work and a good attitude all-season long, according to the Warrior skipper.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” praised Eaton. “To be honest, I’ve probably rode these guys harder than I have any other team that I’ve ever been associated with. There are days that I know that they hate me for a little bit, but I told them that this is why I push them so hard. They’ve worked hard every single day and have done exactly what we have asked them to do.”
Making the 48th District All-Tournament team from Southwestern was: Trevor Howard, Thomas Howard, Stacey, and Starnes.
Southwestern will bring a record of 25-8 into next week’s 12th Region Baseball Tournament, which is set to get underway next Monday afternoon at Rockcastle County High School. The Warriors will look to win their first regional championship since the 2004 season, which is the only regional title in the program's history.
The Warriors, depending on how the draw goes, will play either Pulaski County, Mercer County, or Danville in the first round of the regional tourney. Besides Southwestern, the other district winners from around the region Tuesday evening were: Somerset, Boyle County, and West Jessamine.
WC - 1 4 0 0 2 0 2 - 9 5 0
SW - 5 1 3 1 2 2 X - 14 16 1
W - Starnes (SW)
L - Shelton (WC)
S - Trevor Howard (SW)
2B - Stacey 2, Trevor Howard 2, Turpin (SW)
3B - Bell (WC); Boils (SW)
RBI - Bell 3, Blevins 2, Shelton, Corder (WC); Stacey 3, Trevor Howard 3, Boils 2, Thomas Howard 2, Turpin (SW)