WCHS baseball season in review
The most recent Woodford County High School baseball season will likely be remembered as a successful, yet disappointing one. A record of 23-9 through the regular season showed signs of promise but was ultimately cut short by a single bad night in the post-season. The team fell 4-0 to Western Hills in the opening round of the 41st District Tournament to finish with its fewest wins since 2016, Coach Paul Patterson’s first season as the WCHS skipper. On their best days, the 2019 Bat Jackets were one of the top teams in the 11th Region. Through the regular season, the team scored the most runs (252) in a region that produced eventual state champion Tates Creek. The offense scored in double-digits in 11 games, including six straight times from May 7 to May 14. During that offensive hot streak, the Jackets bashed their way to a mercy rule 12-2 win over Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP). No win showcased the team’s ability more than that May 8 matchup. Woodford County looked to be peaking at the right time with post-season play less than two weeks away. Woodford handed PRP their only mercy rule loss of the season as eight different Yellow Jackets tallied a hit, and senior Spencer Nauert pitched five solid innings. Ever the perennial contender, PRP would eventually make it to the state tournament quarterfinals before falling to Tates Creek. The Woodford pitching staff also had a great statistical season as the group allowed the third fewest runs in the region, just behind Madison Central and Tates Creek. The team was stingy, surrendering fewer than three runs in 23 of its 33 games. Over 35 innings, junior Noah Branham allowed only four earned runs to finish with a .79 ERA. Senior ace Logan Slone finished with a 2.86 ERA while pitching the most innings on the team, and junior Kyle Sims finished with an ERA of 1.41 in nearly 40 innings of work. Of course, one of the biggest stories all season long was senior catcher Charlie Corum’s record-setting season. He finished the year with the most home runs in a single season at Woodford County, and finished second in the state in total home runs with 12. Although he fell one short of Danville’s Ethan Wood, Corum did so in 22 fewer at bats and his slugging percentage of .921 placed him ahead of Wood’s .919. His .404 batting average led all Jackets’ hitters. Six Yellow Jackets who saw regular time in the batter’s box finished with batting averages over .340. Junior Skyelar Johnson led the team with 39 hits with Ben Browning, Corum, Tanner Cavins, Griffin Blankenship and Robert McNeely rounding out the crew of outstanding Woodford hitters. Looking ahead to 2020, there will be some holes to fill if the Bat Jackets are to make their way back to a regional tournament. Replacing Corum’s power will take a team effort, and the steady bats of Blankenship and Browning will be missed. The team will also lose Slone and Nauert. The pair combined for over a third of the team’s innings pitched this season. It was a solid year for the Jackets. They went undefeated on an early season trip to Tampa, only lost consecutive games twice, and at their best were a force to be reckoned with in both the region and the state. If 2020 is to be a better season though, the Jackets will need to bring more consistent focus as they move to the 8th Region. Since 2015, a different team has won the 8th every year. There’s no reason Woodford County couldn’t be the sixth team in as many seasons to claim the region next year when the Jackets make the move. However, they’ll have to go through defending region champion North Oldham to do it.