Tuesday, April 01, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Arkadelphia beats Cabot by one

Leader sportswriter

After opening the Central Arkansas Invitational tournament with two dominant wins over Alma and Kickapoo High School of Springfield, Mo. at Lamar Porter Field in Little Rock, the Cabot Panthers ended the tourney with a close 2-1 loss to class 4A Arkadelphia in eight innings Saturday.

“That was one of those games that I’ve got to do a better job of keeping them focused,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “Arkadelphia is a well-coached team. They’ve had a lot of success and they actually went 4-0 in that tournament. But at the same time we’ve got to take advantage of opportunities.

“We had runners in scoring position all day. In one inning we had the bases loaded and nobody out, and a couple of times we had the bases loaded with one out, and you only scratch one run in the game and it leaves you kind of scratching your head going how did we not score more? But we’ll learn from that game and we’ll get better.”

Other than the two errors Cabot (7-2, 1-1) committed in the field, it was a cleanly-played game by both teams. Senior pitcher Kason Kimbrell pitched the first seven innings of Saturday’s game and the only run scored on him came off of one of the Panthers’ two errors.

“I keep telling our guys if the pitcher’s doing that, we should be winning games. But baseball is baseball. Some days you are going to hit balls hard and it’s just not going to find a hole. I thought we had great at bats to get runners on, but for whatever reason we just couldn’t get that hit to separate ourselves and give ourselves a cushion in that game.

“We’ll get better at that, and that’s one of the things we talked about. Another thing we told our guys is we want to be playing our best at the end of April and in May, not necessarily March. If we can just grow as a team from this, we’ve got enough ability to take advantage of those situations. So I’m totally confident we’re going to get better from that and learn from it.”

Despite Saturday’s loss, the Panthers are showing signs of improvement in all aspects of their game. After the first three games of the season, Cabot’s team batting average was .206. In the last six games, the Panthers have raised their team batting average to .255, and on the mound, Cabot’s team ERA is down to less than one earned run per game.

“When you pitch like that you’re always going to have a chance,” Goodwin said. “I feel really good about where our pitching is. I feel really good about the progress the offense is making. The numbers are proving that the guys are making adjustments. It’s only a matter of time till we’re clicking on all cylinders.”

Cabot got back to 7A/6A East play yesterday with a conference doubleheader at Marion after deadlines. The Panthers are scheduled to return to Lamar Porter Field today for a nonconference game against Little Rock Catholic. That game starts at approximately 5 p.m., and next Tuesday, Cabot will continue conference play with a doubleheader at home against Mountain Home.

The first game of next Tuesday’s twin bill against the Bombers is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.