By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Fresh off a doubleheader sweep of a pair of strong teams last Tuesday, the Panthers of French Camp Academy were hoping to begin region play on a tough note this week when they were set to face rival Ethel High School twice.
“We are so close to each other so it’s a natural rival for both of us,” said FCA head coach Nathan Wright. “It’s a big week and it should be interesting for sure. I know the fans are looking forward to it. We played each other five times last year and four of them went into extra innings.”
After playing the EHS Tigers twice to open league play, the Panthers — who were 6-3 on the season going into the week —were set to host Winona at 1 p.m. on Saturday. But first FCA was to visit Ethel on Tuesday and then host the Tigers at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The following week FCA continues region play by hosting McAdams on April 8 and visiting the Bulldogs on April 11.
Last Tuesday the Panthers took a dramatic 11-10 win over East Webster in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday, before rolling to a 10-3 win over Nanih Waiya in the nightcap.
“We are hitting the ball the best we have since I’ve been at French Camp,” he said. “That might change tomorrow, but right now we are putting the ball in play and are cutting down on our strikeouts.”
The win over East Webster was a wild one. The visiting Wolverines scored four times in the top of the seventh to take a 9-8 lead, only to have the Panthers tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. After EW took a 10-9 lead in the top of the eighth, FCA scored two runs on an odd play in the bottom of the inning to take the win.
The Panthers had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth, when the runner on first attempted to steal second. The throw down was cut off by the second baseman and fired back to home plate in an effort to cut down Michael Erving attempting to score. There was a collision at the plate as Erving slid in head first and the ball got away from the coach. As Erving was shaken up on the field, the runner from second came all the way around to score the winning run.
“It was crazy,” Wright said.
Hagan Box and Erving each ripped a double and a single each to lead FCA at the plate, while Hunter Vaughn, Hunter McKnight and Brooks Warren had two singles each and Cole Henson popped a double. Henson, McKnight and Box drove in a pair of runs each for the winners. Brady Jackson picked up the win on the mound in relief.
FCA scored four runs in the fourth an three in the sixth to take the solid win over the visiting Warriors. Henson ripped a three-run homer to lead the winners at the plate, while Box, Erving, Vaughn, Jackson and Warren had a single each.
Box was the winning pitcher, striking out nine and allowing just one hit in four innings of work, while LIke McKnight pitched the last three innings to earn the save.