Favorite spring performers

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By Greg Woods

 Looking back on the 2018 spring sports season I have many fond memories of performances from teams and individuals. But some individual athletes stand out this year.

Jaydon Berry, has been a big time performer for the Wildcat baseball team for four years. He has dominating numbers for his career both as hitter and as a pitcher.

Over four years, Berry compiled a 21-10 record as a pitcher with a 1.85 earned run average and 279 strikeouts in 229 innings pitched.  He walked only 68 batters in those 229 innings.

As a batter he had 139 hits and a .370 batting average. He batted over .400 in his sophomore and junior years.

The numbers are impressive enough but they don’t tell the whole story. More often than not, he was on the mound against the Wildcats’ toughest opponents in their biggest games. Even as a freshman he was asked to go to the mound for important postseason games. 

He was also an excellent fielding pitcher and shortstop. In talking to HCHS Coach Stuart Dill, we could only remember two times that Berry did not field a bunt cleanly and make the play to get at least one out.

Berry has to go down as one of the best Wildcat baseball players in school history. As someone who has seen a lot of athletes come and go since playing on the HCHS baseball field nearly 40 years ago, I don’t make that statement lightly.

Berry’s teammate, Daniel Murray, had a sensational season on the mound and at the plate.

Murray started the season with a scoreless streak that reached 26 innings before he gave up a run to Bullitt Central on May 12. He finished the season with a four wins, one loss and two saves.

In 35.1 innings he struck out 53 batters and walked 16. He gave up only 17 hits on the season. His earned run average was a miniscule 0.79 for the season.

At the plate Murray was fearsome, literally. He pulled many screaming line drives foul, which always had the Wildcats’ home dugout on alert when he stepped to the plate.

For the year Murray had a .329 batting average with eight doubles, four home runs and 31 RBIs. He was first on the team in doubles, RBIs and home runs and second in batting average.

Emilie Ethington has become a triple threat for EHS girls’ athletics. In the fall she is one of their top volleyball players. In winter she is the playmaker for the basketball team and in spring she is a valuable all around player as the Warriors’ shortstop. 

This spring, Ethington finished with a .523 batting average while also playing excellent defense. She made herself a triple threat in softball with her speed as she regularly took an extra base on what should have been a single or double. She also stole 15 bases.

She earned the respect of all the 31st District coaches with several outstanding defensive plays in the district tournament.

Lizzie Young and Sydnie Raisor were fun to watch just because you knew they would play all out all the time. When you add in that they were just eighth-graders and starting their second season as varsity regulars for the Lady Cats, you begin to see why they would make somebody’s list of favorite performers. 

It is sometimes a dangerous game to bank on continued improvement with age but these two are truly dedicated to the game and will continue to improve. That is a scary proposition. 

Young made the Coaches’ all Eighth region team last year as a seventh-grader and will probably do so again this year. She batted .545 this season, which led the Lady Cats. She also led them in RBIs with 27 and was tied with Gracie Golden for the lead in runs scored. Her 11 doubles were also a team high.

Raisor batted .325 but it was her defense that had many people taking note. The diminutive infielder moved from second base to shortstop this year and at first glance you would have to wonder if she had the arm strength for that position. But you didn’t have to watch for long to know that she had a cannon of an arm. Her footwork and mechanics are impeccable as well.

With these two anchoring the Henry County offense and defense over the next four years, the Lady Cats should be fun to watch.

Claire Young makes my list of favorite performers because of the way she ran the bases with reckless abandon, not because of gaudy statistics, although her offensive stats weren’t bad at all. She was second on the team in doubles behind her little sister Lizzie and tied for first in triples. She batted .333 and although she had only two stolen bases on the year, she was always taking an extra base when the defense was slow to get the ball back to the infield.

That is something that doesn’t show up in the stats but that a coach will take note of. Taking the extra base can fire up your team and give you a scoring opportunity that would have otherwise not existed. Kudos to Claire for swashbuckling base running style.