After losing five games straight, four-of-five of the one-run variety, West Lincolnâ€™s baseball season at 2-6 looked to be in a tailspin.
Rebelsâ€™ head coach Allan Chapman tried to encourage his players by telling them eventually things were going to turn around.
His message got through and he proved to be prophetic, as the Rebels have reeled off four games in a row.
The winning streak culminated in the Easter Tournament Championship at Lincolnton High School. Perhaps more importantly it has his team believing.
â€œI thought a lot of our kids had a good tournament. Chris (Henderson) did a good job on the mound and at the plate. Paul (Finger) had a good tournament. Itâ€™s a shame Dustin (Hester) wasnâ€™t here because he played so well yesterday. Daniel (Scronce) was a little disappointed, thinking he played bad yesterday, but he came back and had a good game tonight,â€ Chapman said.
It was a real shame Dustin Hester couldnâ€™t participate in Wednesdayâ€™s Championship game. If it wasnâ€™t for Hesterâ€™s 3-for-6 performance at the plate against East Lincoln and defensive play of the game, there is a good chance the Rebels wouldnâ€™t have advanced.
Hester is in Ohio competing in a National Wrestling Tournament.
Henderson was a triple threat for West going 3-for-9 with four RBIs at the plate, pitching a complete game two-hitter and directing traffic behind the plate on Tuesday.
â€œIt feels great. Our defense tonight and last night was incredible. Our pitching staff has really come through this year, especially in this tournament. I think we also hit the ball well. Our bats finally came alive,â€ he said, deflecting the majority of the much-deserved credit.
With West Lincoln recently finding their stroke at the plate, Henderson is hoping the Rebelsâ€™ hot bats will carry on the duration of the season.
â€œI thought everybody was seeing the ball well at the plate in this tournament and I hope it continues on through next week and the next and throughout the year,â€ he said.
While Henderson is humble about what he did on the field in the Easter Tournament, which was sponsored by Carolina Trust Bank and Lincoln Athletics, Chapman is not.
â€œChris did a good job tonight and we were fortunate enough to score some runs early and then hold on there at the end,â€ he said.
â€œWe thought they all played well and you have to, in games like this, everybody has to pitch in,â€ he said.
After a 1-for-6 performance Tuesday night, senior leadoff man Daniel Scronce rebounded with a 2-for-4 game with a homerun and two RBIs. He appreciated the tournament victory a little more, having known how hard they come.
â€œIâ€™m proud of the team. We played hard. Everybody wanted to win and we all just came out and gave it our best. Nobody wanted to lose this thing, we wanted to take home some hardware,â€ he said.
Shortstop Paul Finger, who was batting over .400 on the season entering the tournament, had a rare 0-for game versus the Mustangs. Finger, always determined to make his mark on the game, was a pillar of consistency at shortstop turning several double plays.
On Wednesday, he went 2-for-4 and again played well at short to garner, with several of his teammates, a selection on the All-Tournament Team.
â€œIt feels good. We just came out here and played ball. I mean, weâ€™re on a win-streak and it feels real good to win. Itâ€™s like Chapman said, those one-run games make champions and I guess it did,â€ Finger said.
â€œOur confidence is high. Weâ€™re up here (motioning above his head).. Weâ€™re doing good and Iâ€™m proud of everybody. We think nobody is going to stop us,â€ Scronce said.
With the bats coming alive and consistent pitching, who knows, he might just be right.
by John Mark Brooks