Well it's all over for WKU. They lost in the Regional Championship game 4-1. Ole Miss' starting pitcher went on two days rest (in college baseball starters get a week rest, and in pro ball it's typically 4-5 days or in rare cases 3 days). He turned in the great pitching performance in school history, and what many consider the best in SEC history. He pitched a complete game, giving up one unearned run and two infield singles, and set a school record for strikeouts. Our starter Matt, also on two days rest, pitched an awesome 7 innings, only giving up one run. They scored there final 3 runs in the 8th off Chad, and we just couldn't get enough hits to win. But the guys had a phenomenal run, and it is comforting to know that it took a historic performance to knock them out. The Ole Miss fans, team, and announcers showed a rare amount of respect, and I know that meant alot to our guys.
But for me, the best part of the night was an hour after the game. I sent Chad a text, because he was a senior and on the mound when the winning run came in. It was nothing big, just telling him how much he had grown as a player and just how important their impressive run was to alot of people back home. Chad's story is an interesting one. He came from Eddyville and tried out as a walk-on shortstop. It was just a week or so into Coach Finwood's first month on the job. As he was turning double plays, he threw sidearm to get the throw around the runner. Finny and our pitching coach at the time talked for a second and asked him to go to the bullpen. He pitched in high school, but they wanted him to try to throw sidearm. So they brought him on as a little pet project. It's difficult to change somebody's mechanics that much, and Chad has admitted that he wasn't all that great a pitcher in high school, which is why he tried out at short.
Chad was the first player that I met on my first day on the job. I met the coaches, talked for a little bit, and they asked if I could help move some infield dirt from outside the left field fence into the stadium. It was in mounds, and when I got back there, Chad was there shoveling. All of the other players were in drills and practicing, but they sent him to the dirt piles, basically casting him off. We hit it off and became buds quickly. He said that he didn't think the coaches would even keep him on the team through that first semester, before the season even starts. Well, he stuck and worked hard. He only made a few appearances here and there his first 3 years, and only in mop up duty. But he did the work, and this year, he became an important reliever on a good team. He got trusted to hold the lead after WKU came back on Ole Miss a few days ago, and got a win at Vanderbilt a few years earlier. But the best thing about the guy was how excited he was about the team Bible study. He invited everybody. It helped that he was good friends with Balcy and me, but he was pumped.
So when I texted him, I was worried that he would be crushed about the loss. But the first thing he said was how great his 4 years were. And he also said that if he had been a freshman of sophomore trying to deal with the loss, that he couldn't have, but that since his faith had grown so much, he knew that God trusted him with that burden because he could handle it. And I was super excited to hear that so soon after a loss. He thanked Balcy and me for everything, but in all honesty, he was going in the right direction, so we had to just make sure not to hinder his growth. I get really pumped to hear about these guys who I got to spend so much time with growing in the Lord. I love hearing from campers and seeing God's love in them, and it's the same thing with the ballplayers. So WKU is done, but I don't think I could be any happier with the way everything finished. Go Tops!!