Through five games, Jackson County’s baseball team has fashioned itself a nice résumé thus far.
The squad is off to a 4-1 start and is a mere half inning away from being 5-0. The Panthers have won their last three games by a combined 38-13, averaging 12.7 runs per contest in that span.
“Obviously, we’re happy with where we’re at,” coach Tommy Fountain said. “I still think there’s some things we’ve got to improve on. We’re still not executing at the plate — some of our situational stuff — as good as we need to.”
But, Fountain added, “we’ll take 4-1.”
The Panthers picked up win no. 4 this past Monday, beating Prince Avenue 9-2. The victory was something of a microcosm of the season to this point — effective hitting, solid pitching, a couple scattered mistakes here and there, but an overall sound effort.
Jackson County’s pitching came through again with strong mound performances from Jase Latty, who started and threw four innings, and Coleman Barbee, who provided three innings of shutout relief.
Latty held the Wolverines off the scoreboard for three innings before giving up a two-run homer in the top of the fourth. Latty allowed four hits on the night while striking out five.
Barbee spelled Latty in the fifth and closed out the game in dominant fashion, facing just 10 batters (one over the minimum), allowing no hits and striking out eight.
“I thought our pitchers did a good job,” Fountain said. “That’s the longest we’ve stretched out Jase. I thought he did a good job tonight. He got us four innings. That’s what we asked him to do beforehand. He’s just going to get better as time goes along.”
Fountain said Barbee was simply “lights out.”
“That’s the kind of Coleman we’ve got to have in the region (schedule),” he said. “When he throws like that, we have the chance to beat anybody.”
Offensively, Patrick Overstreet enjoyed a three-RBI night with an RBI single in third inning and two-run single in the sixth inning. He has eight RBIs in his last two games.
Andrew Forgarty had two RBIs, driving home a run in the fourth with an RBI single and another in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.
Joel Ellis also drove home a pair of runs with a two-run single in the first inning.
“I was proud of the way we played,” Fountain said. “I thought we had the right approaches at the plate. I thought our mentality, as far as chipping away and adding runs here and there, and taking advantage of things and being able to move along the bases and get into scoring position, I thought that was good.”
Jackson County will put its winning ways to the test as it travels to West Hall today (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.) and moves on to a big weekend double header with Eastside Saturday (1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.. The Panthers then return home Monday to face Johnson (5:55 p.m.).
“We’ll find out this weekend what we’re made out of because we’ve got Eastside,” Fountain said. “We want to take care of West Hall obviously on Wednesday, but I think Saturday will really give us a good indication of where we’re at.”
The tough non-region schedule continues next weekend with road trips to Pike County (March 14, 5:30 p.m.) and Brookstone (March 15, 11 a.m.)
“We intentionally wanted to kind of amp it up before we got into region,” Fountain said.
Through five games, Fountain said it’s “nice to be 4-1” but continues to look toward where he believes this team needs to be. But, at the same time, 4-1 is not a bad start.
“I think we’ve gotten better each game and I think if we keep progressing in this manner, we’ll be fine,” Fountain said.