Wildcats open season with tourney win
Despite what was a rain saturated week, the Cassville Wildcat baseball team was still able to come up with a tournament victory.
The Wildcats played in the Reeds Spring Tournament and went 2-0, defeating Spokane, picking up a forfeit from Blue Eye and downing Reeds Spring for the tourney title.
Against Spokane, sophomore Jake Nolan was Cassville's starting pitcher and got them into the third inning when Michael Baker took over and picked up the win.
The Owls led early, but Cassville tied it at 3-3 in the fourth inning. Both teams shut each other out for the next two innings, but Ryan Rowley scored the go-ahead run in the seventh for the 'Cats and they held on to win 4-3.
Nolan ended up giving up two earned runs, three walks, and striking out four in the game. Baker, Cassville's second pitcher, came in and was lights out. In five innings, he gave up only one hit and walked and struckout five batters while giving up no runs. On the fielding side of the defense, Cassville did pretty well, giving up only one run on an error.
"Jake and Michael both pitched well for the first game," said Coach Rod Hemphill.
On the offensive side of things, the Wildcats struggled. Cassville was only able to get three total hits on the day. Rowley was a large part of the team's success. He had two runs, two stolen bases, one hit and one walk. Nolan and Orrell also helped, combining for the other two hits with one RBI and one run scored.
"We played pretty well defensively, but we will need to hit better," said Coach Hemphill.
In the championship game, the Wildcats took on their hosts. Kelby Haynes started on the mound for the Wildcats and gave up only one hit in six innings. Both teams were shut out for the first four innings of play until Cassville scored four in the fifth.
The Wolves quickly answered with two of their own and were only down 2-5 going into the seventh. Cassville's bats came alive and the Wildcats scored seven runs in the final inning and took the game 12-2.
Haynes and Cory Howard, who relieved in the final frame, gave up only two hits in the entire ball game.
Coach Hemphill credited Coach Kyle Wood with facilitating Haynes readiness for the contest.
"Coach Wood really helped Kelby get focused in," Hemphill said. Haynes went six innings, giving up no earned runs, only one hit and two walks while striking out 11.
"Coach Wood and I were very pleased, since Kelby has been battling injuries," said Hemphill.
Howard finished the game off for the 'Cats giving up one hit and collecting two strikeouts in one inning of work.
Rowley led the Wildcats, once again, going two-for-two with a double, a homerun and three RBIs. Baker showed his prowess at the plate as well by blasting a two-run homerun. Haynes also went two-for-three with two RBIs.
Other hitters included: Nolan with two hits and Orrell, Aaron Jamieson and Kason Koelsch with one hit each.
"Offensively, we finally started staying back and swinging the bats like we can," said Hemphill. "It was nice to see the team put the ball in play with authority."
The Wildcats won the tournament and left with a record of 2-0.
"It was nice to win the tournament for our two seniors (Orrell and Koelsch)," said Hemphill.
Cassville travels to Reeds Spring (2-1) on Friday and will likely find a team ready for some payback. They also play at home against Blue Eye on Monday, April 2.