Thursday, March 27, 2008
Young Cardinals off to 3-7 start under Loden
By BARRY BURLESON
The Potts Camp Cardinals have opened the baseball season at 3-7 but more importantly first-year head coach Michael Loden sees progress.
Sixteen players on the roster of 24 are seventh, eighth and ninth graders.
“We’re still learning and building,” Loden said. “There’s a lot of potential here. We’re young, but we will be OK in a year or two. It will take a little time.”
Loden had been looking to get back into coaching after exploring a different career for a couple of years. He had previously coached four years at Shannon and four and a half years at Olive Branch.
“I heard about the opening at Potts Camp, and it has worked out well,” he said. “I really like it here.”
Potts Camp opened the season “out of its league” a bit, according to Loden, and lost to bigger schools Pontotoc and Ripley.
Then in the Tri-County Tournament, the Cardinals lost two and won two.
“Against Falkner, we looked like we’d never seen a baseball,” he said. “It should have been closer.”
Then Potts Camp was leading rival Hickory Flat 5-2 with about five minutes left in the game’s time limit.
“We had to start the next inning, and they came back and tied it 5-5,” he said.
The Rebels won 8-7 in eight innings.
Next up in the tournament, the Cardinals got just what the doctor ordered – easy wins over Ashland and Blue Mountain.
“It was good to get those wins,” Loden said. “We hit the ball, and that’s a must for this team. We’re not good enough defensively to score one or two runs and win. We need to get seven or eight.”
He said the Cardinals are also “struggling for pitching.”
Number one starter Billy Mitchell, one of three seniors, has been hindered by arm problems.
Versus Myrtle, West Union
Last week the Cardinals fell 12-0 to Myrtle on Tuesday and 13-2 to West Union on Thursday.
“We played pretty well in both games,” Loden said. “Myrtle went up on us 6-0 to start with and we couldn’t get back in it. Myrtle has a good team.”
Versus Myrtle, Mitchell started on the mound and Cody Watts threw in relief.
The Cardinals were tied with West Union 2-2 after one inning but could not keep it close.
Getting extra base hits for Potts Camp were Cody Watts with a triple and Wesley Benson with a double.
Ninth grader Austin Goode made his first start and “did a good job,” according to Loden.
“He just got tired,” the coach said. “It was 4-2 into the third inning.”
West Union scored nine runs in the bottom of the third to ice the win.
Potts Camp played both Hickory Flat and Falkner at home Saturday.
The Cardinals lost 19-3 to division rival Hickory Flat.
“We just didn’t show up to play,” Loden said. “We couldn’t get the bats going.”
Meanwhile, the Rebels “hit the ball as well as anybody we’ve played,” he said.
Watts took the mound loss. Mitchell threw in relief.
The nightcap was better. Potts Camp claimed an extra-inning, 8-7 victory over Falkner.
The Cardinals were up 7-2 going into the top of the seventh. With two outs, Falkner put together some hits and rallied to knot the score at 7.
The bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth were scoreless. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Dustin Minor walked. On a steal, batter Kody Joyner hit a ground ball to third. The throw to first got past the first baseman.
“I never slowed Dustin up,” Coach Loden said.
He came all the way around for the winning run.
Goode pitched seven innings for the Cardinals and struck out nine.
“He pitched as well as I could ask him to,” Loden said.
Mitchell relieved Goode in the eighth and got the win.
For the Cardinals from the batter’s box, Watts had two hits, and Gerodrick Harmon added a double.
The Cardinals were scheduled to host Coldwater on Tuesday. They host Ashland Friday afternoon for a doubleheader. They have two road games Saturday – 11 a.m. at Ripley and 3 p.m. at East Union. Next Tuesday, April 1, Potts Camp visit Hickory Flat at 5 p.m.
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