Although Watson Chapel head coach Chad Cope tries to downplay today’s game between the Wildcats and White Hall as “just another game,” it is much more than that.
Tonight’s game is the first time the two teams have faced each other since last year’s state championship game, in which White Hall bested Chapel in 10 innings.
“It is no more important than the one we played last night,” Cope said. “They got a good team this year. We will have to play our best to even have a chance.”
Cope said one of the things that stand out to him about White Hall is the amount of seniors the Bulldogs have on the team.
“They have kids who have played on the big stage and kids who have played year around,” Cope said. “They are a well coached team and we will have to be at our best.”
White Hall head coach Skip Carr said tonight’s game will have some implications on it but it won’t have anything to do with last season’s state championship.
“It’s a new year, and they have a really good team,” Carr said. “They haven’t lost a game in conference yet and they want to win it just like we do.
“I’m sure they are looking for a way to win this game just like we are.”
On Tuesday, Watson Chapel (8-3) defeated Camden 8-0 at home after combining for eight hits and scoring two runs in the first, three in second, two in the third and one in the fourth.
Cope said this is about where he expected to be Chapel to be.
“Give or take,” Cope said. “We have lost some close games and we have won some close games. We could very easily be 6-6 or 6-5.
“We’ve got some kids that have to grow up. You can’t play like a 15-year-old anymore. I put a lot of pressure of these young kids, but they have done a good job so far.”
Justin Pierce pitched seven shutout innings allowing just three hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Jalyn Jackson led the team with two hits and two runs scored.
Josh Dardenne was 1 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs.
“They have a very good team,” Carr said. “They are our cross town rival and most of our kids have been playing ball against them for a while now.”
On Tuesday, White Hall (6-1, 3-0 in 5A South) defeated Hot Springs Lakeside 6-5 after scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Sophomore Kirk Baugh hit a two-run single to complete the rally and give the Bulldogs the win.
Senior Tyler Zuber was credited with a no-decision after being pulled in the top of the fifth inning. He gave up three runs on two hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Zuber was also 1 for 3 with a two-run home run and a walk.
White Hall senior Landon Reed finished 3 for 4 including a solo home run in the fifth inning.
“Some might think we are borderline insane practicing as much as we do,” Cope said. “But we want to be prepared for anything.
“Our kids do a good job of buying in to what we do.”
Cope said he is unsure who will start today but it could be between Dardenne or Cameron Banks.
In his last outing, Banks pitched three innings of relief and allowed one strikeout and walked one. Dardenne has appeared in four games and has pitched 24 1/3 innings.
Banks has appeared in six games with 10 2/3 innings of work.
Starting on the mound for White Hall is senior Tyler Carr. Against De Queen, Carr gave up six runs (all earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. He also walked four and struck out three.
White Hall won the game 16-6 in five innings.
“If he hits his spots well and keeps them off balance, then he should fair well against them,” Skip Carr said. “We know they are going to put it in play, hopefully they hit it where we are.”
Cope said he will be leaning on his four seniors, which includes Banks, Jordan Stargell, Keieron Savage and Trevor Lankford.
“They have been contributing well and doing a good job,” Cope said.
According to Cope, one of Chapel’s strengths is its team defense.
“Knock on wood, but we are playing some good defense,” Cope said. “And that is something we pride ourselves on.”
Today’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Watson Chapel High School.