• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Bat Jackets cruise to win over Scott County

NATE BEAVERS got the start for the Woodford County High School baseball team in its season opener against Scott County in Georgetown on Tuesday, March 15, and made the most of it. He pitched five strong innings and had six strikeouts, while giving up six hits, three runs and no walks in his five innings on the mound to help the Bat Jackets score a 10-4 victory. According to first-year Woodford head coach Paul Patterson, “When Beavers is good, we’re really good.”(Photo by Rick Capone)

Behind the strong pitching of senior Nate Beavers and junior Jack Ockerman, and a great offensive attack, the Woodford County High School baseball team opened its season in Georgetown on Tuesday, March 15, with a 10-4 win over Scott County. “I’m really, really excited for the kids,” said Woodford’s first-year coach Paul Patterson. “These guys played really hard. They wanted it really bad. They worked hard in the fall. They worked hard in the winter. I feel like I didn’t really have a big part in the game other than just putting them in their positions and then letting them go have fun. “They’ve learned a lot in the spring, they’ve learned a lot in the fall,” he continued. “They understand a lot more about the game each and every day, and they went out and performed. So, I’m tickled to death for them and I’m really exited to see what they’re going to do this year because they’re a great group of kids; a great group of family.” Senior Nate Beavers got the start in the game, pitched five very strong innings, and held the Cardinals in check most of the way. Through the first two innings, Scott County was unable to get their bats on the ball, and it wasn’t until the third inning that they got their first hit. Meanwhile, the Woodford batters were hitting the ball all over the park and by the third inning held a 7-0 lead. Then in the fourth inning, junior Alec Neff blasted a two-run home run over the fence and the Bat Jackets led 10-0. However, just when the game seemed over, the Scott County batters came to life in the fifth inning and put three runs on the scoreboard to make it a 10-3 game. The runs ended the night for Beavers, as Patterson put in junior Jack Ockerman in the sixth inning to try and seal the game. Beavers finished the game with six strikeouts, while giving up six hits, three runs and no walks in five innings on the mound. “When Beavers is good, we’re really good,” said Patterson of his starting pitcher. “His pitch count (55 pitches thrown) was really low, (and) he attacked the strike zone. … You know, he’s learning something every day. I’ve told a couple people that I think he’s probably our most talented guy, but he’s also our most improved guy because he’s willing to learn, he’s willing to listen and he’s a big-time competitor. He wants to see this team do well, so he’s going to try and carry them when he can.” Ockerman came in and, while the Cardinals scored one more run, he shut them down in the two innings he pitched. In between those innings, the Bat Jackets got one more run across home plate to get the 11-4 win. In his two innings on the mound, Ockerman faced eight batters, got six strikeouts, and had one walk and one hit. “Ockerman was a humongous addition to this team,” said Patterson. “I mean, he just knows how to play baseball and he knows how to win. So, if I wanted to talk about Jack Ockerman and all the good things I like about him, we’d be here all night. He’s going to get a lot of innings. His delivery is really clean. He throws a lot of strikes and, of course, you can’t have too many lefties and he’s one of the best ones in the state. I’m excited to have him (on the team).” While Woodford’s batters did their part to score the runs, it was the pitching that was an even bigger part in getting the win. According to assistant coach David Billingsley, pitching is going to be the strength of this 2016 team. “I think probably our strength is our pitching,” said Billingsley in an interview during practice on Friday, March 11. “That seems to be the area we have the most prowess. We’ve got three top notch pitchers that could pitch for anybody in the region, and of course, this is one of the toughest regions in the state; if not the toughest. So, that’s saying a lot.”

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