Baseball Team Dreams of Returning to State

Nick Hounshell, Sports Editor

New coaches, new season, same goal.

Last season came to a close in the Sweet 16 in the form of a 3-1 defeat to the eventual state runner-up Simon Kenton.

This year the Cards have hopes to make another run to Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

GRC returns plenty of starters, having lost only five seniors last season. This experience provides the tools and talent to allow the Cards to make another deep post-season run.

“It helps a lot because the majority of our starters have at least a year of varsity experience,” says senior Tyler Walton. “Experience is everything in high school baseball.”

Senior Jake Ware spoke of the seven returning starters, explaining how the experience “goes a long way, especially when handling post-season nerves.”

With the returning players, comes new head coach Matt Puckett. Puckett was on the coaching staff in 2002 and 2003, when the Cards made consecutive appearances in the state tournament.

Puckett, along with an entirely new staff, will look to take the Cardinals through the postseason and make a return to the Sweet 16.

“The new coaches help us build on everything we’ve done in the past. Along with building on our old motives, they add new things in,” junior Caden Easterling says.

“Having a new coaching staff allows for everyone to have a clean slate,” adds Walton.

When Smoke Signals went to press, the team was 11-3. The Cards’ victories include a 7-3 win over Western Hills in extra innings, an 18-0 beatdown of Bryan Station, and a 17-15 shootout with Harrison County.

The team is also undefeated in district play, with wins of 12-0 over Paris, 8-0 over Bourbon County, and were scheduled to play Montgomery County when Smoke Signals went to press.

The season might just be underway, but the team has high aspirations for the remainder of the season.

“Our team goal every year is state,” says Easterling. “We have so many returners from last year, and with the work we’ve put in this winter, there’s no way we can’t go back to back.”

“The team goal this year is the same it has always been,” adds Walton. “Win district, win region, win state.”

The Cards have all the tools to return to state: experienced players and coaches, good team chemistry, and one common goal. GRC has a long season ahead, but with the right mix of experience and talent, their goal is within their reach.