Wildcats slam door on Leopards quickly

Led by a two-hit shutout complete game performance from Justin Pierce, the Watson Chapel Wildcats defeated the De Queen Leopards 10-0 in five innings in 5A-South Conference action on Friday at Wildcat Field.

“He pitched well,” Watson Chapel head coach Chad Cope said of Pierce. “He came back and pitched against White Hall last week. He had a little bit of soreness, so we held him out, but I think he ended up with about 54 pitches and I told him he wasn’t going over 60 (Friday).”

Watson Chapel (9-5, 5-1 in 5A-South) scored at least a run in every inning as they collected eight hits in the game. De Queen (3-10, 0-5) struggled to find a timely hit as Pierce was phenomenal at keeping the Leopards offense off balance all game.

Pierce finished his day allowing just two hits and no runs with three walks and three strikeouts. He also received help from the Wildcats’ defense as they played an error-free ballgame and didn’t allow a Leopard to reach third base all game.

“Defensively, we have played pretty well all year,” Cope said. “That’s what we try to do around here. We try to pitch to contact and they made the plays behind (Pierce).”

Watson Chapel started the scoring early in the first inning. After back-to-back singles, a walk to Pierce loaded the bases for the Wildcats with one out. Jacob Owen connected with a two-RBI single to left field and the Wildcats led 2-0. An error at third base allowed another run to score and the Wildcats held a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

The Wildcats blew the game open in the bottom half of the second inning with four runs. Back-to-back singles from Dalton Barker and Josh Dardenne put two on with nobody out. Jaylon Jackson stepped up to the plate and brought them home with a two-RBI double to right-centerfield which chased away the Leopards starting pitcher. The Wildcats added two more runs later in the inning on an error and a sacrifice fly to build a 7-0 lead.

“We finally had some good at bats,” Cope said. “We did some things with runners in scoring position and that helps out when you get a lead early.”

Watson Chapel went on to add a run each in the next three innings including a walk-off RBI single from Kirel Young as the Wildcats collected eight hits throughout the game.

“Those eight hits came with people in scoring position,” Cope said of his offense. “When you can do that, it really makes things (better.)”

Landon Colson finished 2 for 2 with three runs scored while Jackson went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Tyler Shelton and Kirkland Williams collected the Leopards’ two hits in the game.

With the win, the Wildcats move into a tie for first place in the 5A-South, depending on the outcome of the Magnoila/Hot Springs Lakeside game. Cope said he keeps seeing improvement in his boys as the year progresses and hopes it will continue.

“I’m starting to see us get a little better than the last week or two, which is a good sign.”