With basketball district, regional, and soon, state tournaments still going on it is easy to forget about the outdoor sports about to start.
For the Batesville Pioneers they are already hitting the baseball diamond.
Tuesday afternoon they kicked off their 2021 campaign against with an afternoon match against the Mountain Home Bombers.
They defeated the Bombers 3-2.
Gaige Wood, who recently transferred back to Batesville, stuck out 12 batters. “He’s a really good pitcher. I’ve coached him since he was about seven years old,” head coach of the Pioneers Kelly Rush said.
Jace Daugherty recorded the walk off game winning hit for the Pioneers.
Rush recently talked about his team heading into the season.
As a second year coach Rush could still be considered a rookie. The Pioneers’ 2020 season, as with everyone else’s, was cut short due to COVID-19.
Rush only has five games under his belt as a head coach, four last season and one this season.
“It was tough,” Rush said. “We thought we were going to have a really good group. We had a lot of kids coming back and some young ones we thought were going to be pretty good players. It was real frustrating, I hated it for those seniors.”
Although it may be hard to judge where his team should be at this season, Rush is confident in several things.
Depth in pitching, depth overall, and defense are a few points he touched on.
The Pioneers lost two starters to graduation last year and the year prior. “We were excited about that, we knew we had a lot of kids coming back,” Rush said.
The Pioneers lost their would be starting third baseman, senior Mason Sifford, to an ACL injury in the last football game of the year. Sifford was set to be the number two pitcher as well. Rush said, “he did a super job at third base, he was a good defensive player and he could hit the ball really well too.”
This is where depth comes in for Rush. He said the depth of the team “has paid off.”
“I’m going to be honest, if we aren’t good defensively I’m going to be disappointed,” Rush added.
Another new hurdle for the Pioneers this season is the move back into the 5A conference. They were set to be in 4A last year before COVID-19 shut all sporting events down.
Rush and the Pioneers will continue hitting the diamond while other teams finish up their tournaments and continue into the spring.