A possible night to remember
Maybe, just maybe the HiToms will be looking back on July 10 as a night that revived an otherwise disappointing season.
To other teams around the Coastal Plain League, there is nothing special about that date. It was just an ordinary night in the summer collegiate wooden bat league. For the Tommies, it was a breath of fresh air amidst the stench of losing nine of their last 10. They hit, pitched well, and for once, were not the team committing five errors. Just about everything went right in the 15-5 thumping of Martinsville on the road.
Victimized by poor defense throughout 2013, the HiToms currently rank 12th in fielding percentage in the 14-team CPL. To date they have 63 errors, with an average of nearly two miscues per outing. But against the Mustangs, they finally got to benefit from blunders of the opposing team. Martinsville committed five errors — three of which came in a game-changing third inning that saw Thomasville score eight times.
Offense has not been a problem for the HiToms when talking about overall hitting. They are tied for fourth in the league with a .250 average, and are tops in hits with 278. Where the team lacks is driving home runners in scoring position. They hit a home run in this department against the Mustangs. All 15 runs came via an RBI. There were 10 hits and batters were patient at the plate drawing five walks.
The HiToms certainly have the kind of lineup that can go on a tear and turn what is currently a 15-19 record into something special. With big bats from powerhouse schools such as Louisville, UNC, South Carolina and Clemson, there is some mighty firepower in the barrels. The learning curve from switching from metal bats to wooden ones should be over. Now is the time to show what you’ve got.
Of course, offense is only half of the equation. Pitching must hold up against other teams that should be hitting their stride right about now. Thomasville is beginning to slip in team ERA, ranking 10th at 3.91. James Lively and Josh Frederick lead the way with three wins each, while Hunter Rice anchors the bullpen with eight saves. Lively went six strong innings against Martinsville, and the HiToms will need that kind of production from its starting pitchers to keep the arms in the pen fresh.
So while the season up to this point has not be sterling, there is much optimism as the summer rolls on. Eight teams will make the playoffs, and as history has shown in all sports, any team can get hot at any given time.
What better time to heat up than on a July evening in Martinsville.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.