Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2016
From STAFF REPORTS
Schley County’s Michael Leeder pitched a no-hitter against the Webster County Bobcats on March 4 to help propel the Wildcats to a 7-1 record on the young 2016 season, following the team’s first season loss.
The Wildcats have continued going strong after taking the team’s first defeat of the year, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Class AAAAA Hardaway Hawks in Columbus.
After suffering that heartbreaking loss, the Wildcats dusted themselves off to face Webster County on March 4 and Heard County on March 5, earning solid wins in both contests.
The loss at Hardaway came despite an admirable performance from the Wildcats against a much larger program.
The Hawks jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after three innings and the ‘Cats weren’t able to claw their way back into it. Pitcher, Chase Patrick, took his first loss of the year, tossing four innings while giving up four hits and two walks. Patrick struck out five batters in the contest.
Schley tried to get back into it in the sixth frame as RBI singles by Josh Hutchens and Leeder brought the Cats to 6-2. Brett Usry batted with two runners on base and hit one to the fence for the third out of the inning.
Leeder threw two innings of relief, giving up two hits and one run, as well as striking out two batters.
Schley managed just four hits in the contest. Blake Howell nailed a double and Clint Sellars added a single to go along with Hutchens’ and Leeder’s RBIs.
In the match against the Webster County Bobcats, Leeder took the mound for the entire match, tossing seven innings without giving up a single hit.
The senior right-hander pitched the first seven-inning perfect game in Schley County history with the 11-strikeout performance in Preston.
Sophomore, Wade Law, got his first start of the year behind the plate and worked well with Leeder throughout the game. According to reports, Usry made several stellar plays at short stop, including the game-ender on a slow roller just past the mound.
Hutchens scored the only run the Cats would need in the first inning. Usry stole second and third bases before scoring on a Clint Sellars single to right field. Hutchens collected three hits on the day, including doubles in the third and sixth innings.
Other leading hitters for Schley were Usry, Sellars and Patrick, who each connected on two hits. Will Barry and Howell added singles. The ‘Cats ended the game with 11 hits.
On the historic win, Wildcat head coach, Chuck Cheek, told the Times-Recorder in a press release, “Congratulations to Michael (Leeder) and the team for that game. We’ve been doing this a while here and that was the first perfect game we’ve been a part of. A ton of credit has to go to Webster County. They made some amazing plays on some balls we hit hard to end innings. They played outstanding defensively. We were up 2-0 in the fourth inning and we had to tell our guys to keep their heads up… It seemed like everything we hit was on a line right at somebody, or one of their guys was making a sports center-type play. Leeder was great out there and gave us a chance to find some holes.”
Returning to the diamond the next afternoon, the Wildcats squared off against the Class AA Heard County High School Braves.
The Wildcats, again, earned a significant 9-2 victory over their non-region foes, out-hitting the Braves 10-1 in the contest.
Schley scored four runs in the fourth inning on a two-run single by Hutchens, an RBI single by Leeder, and a ground out by Patrick to break the game open. On the day, Patrick racked up four RBIs on two hits for the Cats.
Usry had an outstanding day both at the plate and on the mound. Heard County managed just one hit off of the ‘Cat’s pitcher, who allowed no earned runs, one hit, and struck out nine batters during his five innings of work.
Howell closed the game out in the last two innings, giving up no hits and striking out three batters.
At the plate, Usry went 4-4 with a big double off the top of the fence in the fifth inning. Reid Ragsdale, Hutchens, Leeder, Sellars, and Patrick also logged hits in the game.
Patrick connected twice from the plate, with one of his hits bombing deep into left field in the seventh inning to ice the game.
On the Wildcats’ significant win, Cheek stated, “This was another of those games we tried to schedule to help us get better this year. We came out a lot more aggressively. That’s going to be key for us going forward. Brett (Usry) had a heck of a day. He was dominant on the mound and they couldn’t get him out at the plate. Those kind of days don’t come around often. Blake (Howell) was solid on the mound too. He’s just as comfortable starting game one of a state championship series as he is coming in to close a game. I love having him available to pitch. Our defense was solid again. They have a short porch with a tall fence all the way around. We talked to our guys about keeping the ball down and going after them. Brett (Usry) really was in command the whole game. He got in a little tight in the fifth, but worked his way out of it. Heard won 20 games last year and advanced to the Elite-Eight in AA. They have a great coach and that was a big win for us.”
The Wildcats returned to their home field on March 7 to host the Dooly County Bobcats in a double-header.
Edit: Schley’s boys won both of the contests to improve the team’s region 4-A record to 2-0.
The team will travel to Leesburg to take on the Class AAAAAA Lee County High School Trojans on March 9 before opening region play against Marion County in Buena Vista on March 11.