After watching his team struggle with consistency and discipline in its first four outings this summer, Fair Play High School baseball coach Patrick Love got what he’d been waiting for Monday, June 15.
The Hornets played steady, measured baseball on the road, beating Dadeville 9-6 and 7-6 in a Heart of the Ozarks League doubleheader.
Following a strange, stressful spring semester that saw all sporting events, along with in-person education canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Love said a game free from distraction was what he was hoping to see from his team.
“What we’ve done in our first four games is to give up that big inning, and it just escalates and the game gets away from us,” he said. “We stopped that tonight.”
In game one, the two teams battled back and forth the first few innings with Fair Play clawing away a narrow lead. Each successive inning saw the Hornets perform when they needed to to keep their team ahead.
“We were really consistent at plate, and so we were able to respond when they’d score on us,” Love said. “That’s what we’ve been working on.”
And the Fair Play defense was able to keep Dadeville in check, so the Hornet offense had a chance, he said.
“Our first few games, we didn't have that and things would spiral out of control when there was an error or a walk,” he said.
On Monday, though, Love said pitcher Cory Cantrell carefully guided the team through the first five innings.
“Cory did a really good job settling us down, calming his emotions and throwing strikes,” Love said. “We started making plays behind him in clutch situations. We didn’t let the big inning get away from us.”
Offensively, Cantrell performed at the plate, hitting a double to advance his team.
The whole roster was strong at bat Monday, Love said.
“We were good really all the way up and down our lineup by the end,” he said. “Our small game bunting the ball and putting a lot of pressure on their pitcher to force him to start throwing balls. That caused him to walk a couple in a row and gave us a shot.”