Season ends for diamond 'Cats
Squad returns large, determined group next season
The postgame meeting was somber, as you would expect after a 3-2 loss to Carl Junction ended the Cassville baseball season on Monday.
When the group broke, the team surrounded their coach Kyle Wood and two seniors in Chase Jackson and Andrew Whitham to give them a goodbye hug and thank them for their service to Wildcat baseball.
For Cassville, the season was a wild roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
Jackson, who was going to be counted on to supply power to line up, tore his ACL during the football season but was able to comeback and play in the last four games.
Whitham, shouldered the load of senior leadership at first choosing to lead by example and then becoming more vocal.
Wood stated that he proud of both of these young men.
"They are great guys and the type that you want to coach," Wood said. "You could spend hours talking about their positive side and that it the type of player you want to churn out of your program each and every year."
Wood likened their final game with Carl Junction to how their season had gone.
The Wildcats came into the matchup as underdogs, got hit in the mouth, falling behind 3-0 in the second frame, but never quit.
The scratched out two runs in the top of the third but could not find that missing hit to put them over the top.
"Carl Junction is a good and solid team," Wood said. "Their pitcher located his stuff well and his defense made plays. We kept attacking until the end."
Close calls were the name of the game for the Wildcats this season.
Of their 12 losses, seven were by one run or in extra innings.
"In those games a minor adjustment here or their changes the outcome," Wood said. "It was a season of almost, but not yet in our games."
For the coach, the emotions of nine years at the helm came flooding home as he stood in the midst of his team after the game.
In his final remarks to the team, Wood told them that they have a large group coming back.
In fact Cassville has nine players returning that started in at least two games or saw action in at least10 contests.
"I'm not leaving the cupboard bare for Danny [Powers]," Wood said. "We both have worked to bring these guys along and they will be pretty salty next season."
Although somber and disappointed with the loss, the Wildcats will enter next season as a favorite to win the Big 8 Conference according to Wood.
The key will be taking the next step in their growth.