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Tyler Hether dives in for the Highlanders’ first run of the new season as Floyd Central puts away Southern, 9-1. Photo by Wade Bell

Highlanders blast Southern, 9-1

April 07, 2010
The Southern Trojans came across the Ohio River Friday with eight games already under their belts while Floyd Central had yet to play a single game. For some teams, that might have been an advantage, but the Highlanders, featuring 10 seniors, relied on their experience to walk away with a 9-1 win.

Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke
"The Louisville schools have always been like that," Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke said. "We've played St. X where we're 2-1 and St. X is 9-3. That's always happened. That's just where, with their season, they start it before us. We're just happy to have a team to play. It's not that big of a deal."

Southern drew first blood with a run in the first inning, With two outs, Reggie Young and Tyler Manning drew walks. Young, who stole second and third, scored as Jeff Fortwengler singled for a 1-0 lead. That, however, was as far as the Trojan scoring went.

The Highlanders failed to score in their first at-bat, but they did cross the plate in the next four innings.

Tyler Hether scored on a double by Tanner Wortham in the second. In the third, John Boyle reached on an error, stole second, went to third on an Eric Schmitt single and scored on a passed ball to Garret Shanks. In the fourth, Tyler Barnes walked with one out and stole second. With two outs, Boyle reached safely courtesy of another Trojan error, which also allowed Barnes to cross the plate for a 3-1 Floyd Central lead.

"I've told a lot of people, the newspapers and everybody else that one of our biggest strengths is our experience," LaDuke said. "We've got the seniors, and that's something you can't coach. You've just got to be patient, and every once in a while, those years will happen."

Things really began to unravel for the Trojans in the fifth inning. Schmitt began the bottom half of the inning with a first-pitch double. Shanks then was hit by a pitch and Hether singled to load the bases.

Following a pitching change, Clayton Hitner walked to score Schmitt. The next two Floyd Central batters failed to reach, but Seth Huls saved the inning by ripping a long shot to left-center field fence. The hit was good for a double, and all three runners scored as the Highlanders began to leave the Trojans in the dust as they took a 7-1 lead.

"In the fourth, we had an opportunity, too, where we had runners at second and third with no outs and we had a strikeout," LaDuke said. "We felt like we could have jumped out on them by three or four runs then. So, we missed an opportunity there. A big hit by Seth Huls, our nine hitter, a two-out double, with bases loaded, and he's a senior. He came through for us, and that was the big hit."

Southern threatened in the top of the sixth inning but left two runners standing. The Highlanders scored two more runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The Trojans got a runner on in the top of the seventh, but they failed to score, giving Floyd Central the 9-1 win.

"We've had some good teams here, but this team here, we've worked hard the last three weeks," LaDuke said. "The seniors have been doing a great job and the underclassmen have. We've worked hard. We've been kind of anxious to play, but it's nervous just because you work hard doesn't mean anything. It doesn't guarantee you any wins. So, it's nice to get that first one away."

Schmitt and Hether had three hits each for the Highlanders. Hitner, the starting pitcher, got the win with six strikeouts and five walks, and reliever Ryan Cain got three strikeouts while hitting one batter. The Highlanders made just one error and stranded eight runners on base.

"We started off 3-0 and got some votes and these kids remember that," LaDuke said of last season. "Then, we ran into a little losing streak. I think they want to get off to a good start and see if they can keep it going this year."

Southern had just two hits, neither going for extra bases. A trio of Trojan pitchers combined for six strikeouts, three walks and three hit batters. Southern left seven runners on base.

LaDuke said his team has the potential and experience to do big things at the end of the season.

"We've got to play like this all year," he said. "Our goal is to have the best team on the field come sectional time. These guys, because of our experience, we have a great opportunity to compete for a sectional championship and a conference championship. As long as they play to their capabilities and keep on working hard, we should be in contention at the end of the year. It's a long year, but it's a good start."

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