The toughest opponent the Henry County baseball team has faced this year is a girl — Mother Nature.
She’s rained out plenty of games, and left fields soggy enough that they just weren’t playable. And last week against Williamstown, she threw a wild, windy fit.
But the Wildcats play on, when Mother Nature permits, of course.
“Our toughest opponent this year has been the weather,” coach Austin Hunsaker said.
Last week, however, Mother Nature took a break, and the team was able to fit in three games.
Weather still was a formidable foe as the team faced Williamstown Thursday night as stout winds kept the players on their toes and fans huddled together.
Trent Lucas and Luke Magness pitched well enough in the game to help the Cats pick up a win, and freshman Austyn Sailings and sophomore Dylan Ouelette had key hits.
“We were able to score six runs, which isn’t a lot, but it was nice to see us put a six on the scoreboard,” Hunsaker said.
It was progress Hunsaker wanted to see for his young team.
“Your goal is to progress and get better with each game,” he said. “You know you’re going to take your lumps when you have six new starters out there. You know it’s going to be difficult, but the big thing is trying to get better every game.”
As the season has gone on, and when the Wildcats have been able to play, Hunsaker said their hitting has improved. He added that pitching and defense have been good for the team.
“We’ve just got to improve on our offense if we want to be able to make any noise at the end of the season,” he said.
With such a young team, Hunsaker said the offense isn’t clicking well, mostly because the players just haven’t faced much varsity pitching. “For a lot of these kids, that’s the first time they’ve seen curveballs at the varsity level,” he said.
Despite the struggles, the Wildcats remain generally positive, but are frustrated with the weather. “I just explain to them ... there’s nothing we can do about the weather, it’s not something we can control,” he said. “We just have to look for the silver lining.”
And that silver lining has come in the team’s pitching roster, which does not run deep. The breaks due to weather help the pitching staff to rest.
Hunsaker said he tries to make practices more fun or, like Monday night, give the team a night off once in awhile when another team cancels.
In the meantime, the team is getting games in where they can, including a tough 0-2 loss to Seneca last Wednesday and a grueling 3-11 loss to Gallatin County.
Against Gallatin, Hunsaker said the team just didn’t do anything well. “We didn’t hit well, didn’t pitch well, didn’t play good defense,” he said. “that’s probably one of our worst games of the year, performance wise.”
Against Seneca, Ouellete threw a seven-inning shutout, in a game that went into extra innings. But Seneca picked up two runs in the eighth, and walked away with the win.
While the pitching effort was strong, Hunsaker said the team just didn’t hit the ball well enough.
“The bats just weren’t there,” he said. “Any time your pitcher throws a seven inning shutout, you should be able to win.”
Henry County was scheduled to play Trimble Tuesday night, and will play again Thursday in the NCKC tournament starting at Carroll County. If they win that game, they will play in the NCKC finals Saturday.
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