The SCC Baseball and Softball teams faced many of the same challenges this spring, and their results were eerily similar. Both teams overcame injuries and an interminable winter to finish their seasons with 10 wins.
After opening the season in early February by traveling to Louisiana to play nationally ranked LSU-Eunice, the SCC Baseball team had to wait over a month to play their next game. SCC had 12 games cancelled due to the prolonged winter forcing them to start back up immediately in regional and conference play.
The stars for SCC Baseball this year were the sophomores.
Third baseman Austin Boden led the team for the second time in as many seasons with a .347 average.
“He started here as a walk on, earned a scholarship and has done things I have never seen in my time coaching,” said Head Coach Chris Gober.
One of those things came in the last game of the regular season, as Boden went 4-5 with four doubles and drove in four runs in a win.
One of the things Gober cited as a source of pride was the growth of his sophomores. Catcher Austin Avalos hit .322 this season and outfielders Jack Manley and Zach Herman hit .303 and .318 respectively.
Avalos made the most drastic jump of any player going from a bullpen catcher with just two at bats in his freshman season to starting catcher.
“I did not expect to have Avalos as my starting catcher, but a series of events gave him a chance and he became one of our most reliable hitters and won the starting job,” said Gober.
On the mound, sophomore left-handed pitchers Scott Huesemann, who will be continuing his career at Central Methodist next year, and Spencer Pugh each pitched more than 50 innings for the Cougars and struck out some 30 batters.
Of his left-handed, two-headed pitching monster, Gober said, “It’s great to have a pair of guys you know are going to go out there and give you six or seven strong innings each time out.”
Although SCC doubled its win total from last season, injuries definitely played a role in the 10-34 finish. Freshman catcher Rob Ruzicka suffered a fractured wrist in early March and missed most of the year.
After throwing a complete game to get the first Cougar win of the season, freshman pitcher Jashawn McDaniel was shut down for most of the season with tendinitis. The promising young pitcher only had four starts all season.
The worst of the injuries came during the final home doubleheader. Sophomore outfielders Jack Manley and Tony Patchin collided running full speed in the outfield for a ball hit in the right-center field gap. Manley was shaken up, but Patchin got the worst of it, suffering multiple facial fractures, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.
Injuries were also a problem for the SCC softball team. Head Coach Michelle Patrico only had 11 players to work with for most of the season causing players to play out of their natural positions. This turbulence definitely helped contribute to the slow start and an 8-30 regular season record.
However, the Lady Cougars peaked at the right time. SCC won two games in the regional tournament and finished in fourth in Region XVI. “I always want us to being playing our best at the end of the year,” said Patrico. “We just kept getting better.”
SCC entered the tournament as the five seed, and beat the four seed North Central, a team that beat the Lady Cougars all four times in the regular season, in extra innings and Maple Woods, the six seed. SCC was able to play the one seed, Crowder, tight, but lost 3-2, and was eliminated by the eventual champion, Jefferson.
Four Lady Cougars were named to All-Region XVI teams. Freshman infielder April Hennen received first-team honors. Hennen led SCC with a .347 batting average, 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.
The other freshman to receive postseason honors was infielder Kayla Cox, who was named to the second team. In her first season at SCC, Cox was second on the team in batting with a .347 average.
Two sophomores were named to the All-Region second team: pitcher Ashley Lutz and outfielder Bridget Allgier. Lutz struck out 93 batters in 132 innings, while posting a 3.48 ERA. Allgier hit .280 and was second to Hennen with three home runs and 15 RBIs.
The loss of sophomores Lutz, Allgier and utility player Anna Bowden will be a big blow for SCC according to Coach Patrico. “Our sophomores were very important this year, not only did they start every game but they were great leaders.”
The baseball team is losing 11 sophomores, which will be a big loss, but Coach Gober is already looking forward to the next season. “I’m excited to have the freshmen back, and to see what we can do as a healthy team.”
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