Ask anybody associated with West Lincoln baseball who the leader of the team is and the answer will be the same â€” Paul Finger.
When most people think of leading, they think of someone who will vocally lead, but Finger leads by example.
â€œPaul is not very vocal. He plays the game hard. He plays the game the right way and most of his leadership comes from his experience playing varsity for the last four years,â€ Rebels head coach Allan Chapman said.
Finger, who moved from shortstop to third base earlier this season, decided to sign with Tusculum College before his final prep campaign began. With that potential distraction out of the way, itâ€™s been business as usual for the four-year starter.
â€œBy signing early, he eliminated the distraction. By not signing, he wouldâ€™ve worried about it all year long,â€ Chapman said.
â€œIt relieved a lot of pressure off me. It isnâ€™t in my head. I donâ€™t have to think about it or anything,â€ Finger said.
Another thing that has benefited Finger is playing the corner instead of shortstop. That move allows him to not have to carry such a heavy burden on the defensive side of the ball.
â€œThe move back to third base has been very good for Paul. He seems to be much more comfortable there. He plays much better there, and he can concentrate more on his offense and not have to worry about carrying so much of a load defensively,â€ Chapman said.
That concentration Chapman spoke of has paid off to the tune of .443, a Lincoln County leading five homers and 27 RBIs. Fingerâ€™s also scored 30 runs.
â€œHeâ€™s extremely important to our success as you can see from the runs scored and RBIs. Between he and Chris (Henderson), they account for a lot of our offense. Weâ€™ve kind of built the offense around Paul by putting Payden (Houser) in front of him and giving him the opportunity to drive in runs,â€ Chapman said.
Of course it also helps when Henderson and Mars Hill-signee Johnathan Wise are batting behind you.
â€œWe try to ensure Paul gets pitched to by protecting him with Chris (Henderson) and Johnathan (Wise),â€ Chapman said.
A Midwest 2A All-Conference performer a season ago, Finger not only gets pitched to, but he capitalizes on the pitches he sees.
With 109 career-hits, the third baseman ranks second in West Lincoln school history behind current Davidson star senior Jay Heafner. Finger has only struck out six times in 80 at-bats this season.
While Fingerâ€™s statistics are eye-popping, he says theyâ€™re not as important to him as the team success.
â€œThey really donâ€™t mean anything to me. It just matters about the team and us winning,â€ he said.
Chapman sees a bright future for his standout infielder at Tusculum.
â€œI believe heâ€™ll be an immediate impact player for Tusculum. He has the size, the speed and the arm strength to succeed in the infield. His ability at the plate should speak for itself,â€ he said. â€œI think he can be an ambassador for our program in the same way Jay (Heafner) has been at Davidson and David (Wise) and Matt (Craig) have been at Limestone,â€ he added.
Filled with humility and a young man of few words, Finger has modest goals at the next level.
â€œJust to keep up the hard work, try to do my best and try to earn a starting spot,â€ he said.
by John Mark Brooks