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'More ball to play'

Liberators celebrate longtime coach

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In a stark departure from the weather seen in games of late, no rain, gusty winds or storms were found at Bolivar High School’s Liberator Field for the rematch between the Glendale Falcons and the Bolivar Liberators on Thursday, May 12.

In what has come to be known as the “Tornado Game,” the teams’ previous attempt to play came on Thursday, April 21. But, that game was postponed due to strong and severe storms — and a tornado warning — that blew through the area at game time. 

With sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, throngs of Bolivar’s faithful fans and students came out to watch the midday game — the last regular season coaching appearance of longtime skipper Brad Roweton, who is set to retire at the end of the season. 

Assistant Coach Brian Thompson celebrated his last regular season home game as a coach, as well.

Bolivar fell to Glendale 7-1.

Thanks to a very wet and stormy baseball season, the Liberators have completed only about half of the number of games the Falcons have finished.

Entering the game, the Liberators had lost only five contests and the Falcons had dropped six, but Glendale had 23 wins compared to Bolivar’s 11. 

Glendale’s pitching was on full display Thursday. Falcon starter No. 3 Jacob House carried a no-hitter against the Liberator bats into the sixth inning. 

The Liberators sent No. 20 Ethan Welch to the mound.  

Glendale first baseman Carter Lewis jumped on a pitch in the second inning to start the scoring. 

A string of solid hits, including a pair of singles and doubles, added three more Glendale runs in the top of the fourth inning. 

Bolivar’s No. 25 Ryder Hall came on in relief in the fourth inning, yielding another three runs to Glendale in the seventh inning. 

Bolivar’s hitters attempted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

Three singles in a row and a hit batter allowed the Liberators to tally a run. 

In a scene reminiscent of the 1888 poem “Casey At The Bat,” senior power house Kaden Degraffenreid came to bat in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. 

With Glendale relief pitcher No. 21 Drew Wedgewood on the mound, Degraffenreid struck out on three pitches to end the game. 

The Thursday loss followed two Liberator wins earlier this week, an 8-6 victory over Waynesville and a 2-1 win over Marshfield. 

Following the game, Roweton shared his thoughts on his final regular season game, upcoming district play and his career. 

“I always enjoy my job, still do,” Roweton said. “We are just looking forward to the opportunity to play Tuesday.”

The sixth seeded Liberators are set to start Class 5 District 6 play on Tuesday, May 17, against third seeded Branson

“In our mind, we got more ball to play, and we’ll play until they say we can’t play anymore,” Roweton said. 

The coach said Branson has “a nice club.” 

“It’s gonna be a challenge for us, but if we keep playing the way we have been we will be in the game and have a chance to win,” he said. 

Roweton leaves behind an impressive legacy with the Liberators, having coached 11 of his 28 years with Bolivar.  

When asked about plans after retiring from a career in education and coaching, Roweton said he’ll still be working, just in a different way. 

“We own farms in the Halfway area, and I’ll be working to manage those,” he said. 

Following the game, Roweton met with his squad in the infield for a final conference.

“We joked about a senior night quote — the “Brad Roweton Sunshine Club” — and I thanked them for the retirement gift, a really nice fishing pole,” Roweton said.

The team gave both Roweton and Thompson brand new fishing poles as gifts of thanks for their leadership. 

When pointing out the new fishing gear, Roweton said with a big smile, “And we’ll be doing some fishing.”

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