Wednesday, May 08, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot, NLR could face each other

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock and Cabot begin play in the class 7A baseball tournament this week in Rogers, and could end up facing each other on Friday. The Charging Wildcats, the No. 1 seed from the 7A Central, gets a first-round bye and awaits the winner of Thursday’s noontime matchup between Cabot and tournament host Rogers High School.

Cabot coach Jay Fitch knows very little about the Mounties, but feels good about how his team is currently playing.

“We were so up and down with the sticks for the first month, month and a half of the season, you were just hoping things would turn around and we’d get some consistency,” said Fitch. “That sort of happened for us and we’ve really been hitting it well the last month. I feel pretty good about it right now and hopefully we’ll carry that into the playoffs.”

Fitch only has scores by which to judge the Mounties. He’s not seen them play since Cabot beat them in the first round of the state tournament four years ago.

“The last time we made a little run we started off with Rogers, and that’s the last time I’ve seen a Rogers baseball game,” Fitch said. “Judging from their scores, they must have one really good pitcher because it looks like they split with everybody in their conference just about but Fayetteville. I’m sure that’s who we’ll see on Thursday.”

Another disadvantage is playing the first round on the tournament hosts home field.

“We’re right there in the backyard so I’m sure that’ll be an advantage for them,” Fitch said. “They should have a pretty good crown there so we’re going to have be really focused on the task at hand and not let that become part of it.”

Fitch is unwilling to say who he will put on the mound against the Mounties.

“We haven’t really made that decision yet,” Fitch said. “I’m kind of leaning towards Z (Zachary Patterson). He’s been our best the last few weeks. But Ryan (Logan) has been solid all season and we’ve got Chipper (Dustin Morris) back at 100 percent and he’s thrown really well. So we’ve got some options there. We’ve got a couple more besides those three too.”

North Little Rock coach Randy Sandefur’s squad has been ranked No. 1 by some publication or another all season long, but he’s not putting much stock in that.

“This is a really competitive tournament,” Sandefur said. “7A baseball is really good this year and there are a lot of good teams and a lot of good pitchers. There’s nobody you can overlook and try to pitch around. You’ve got to go with your best every night or you don’t get to come back.”

Sandefur likes his pitching staff and is comfortable with how his team is swinging the bats right now. But he has one concern that has plagued his team at times this year, especially in their losses.

“We can’t give away outs in the base paths,” Sandefur said. “We’ve given up some runs this year with bad base running mistakes. It’s a game of 21 outs is what it is, and we’re going to need all 21 to be successful.”