Thursday was obviously not the way Northside coach Brian Fry and his Grizzlies wanted to finish up a frustrating season. But Trey Holloway’s Greenwood Bulldogs dominated from the second batter of the contest and rolled Northside, 17-2, at Hunts Park.
Here are three takeaways from Northside’s final game of the season, and Greenwood’s final tune-up before an all-important date with Russellville tonight.
1. Greenwood patient at the plate
Jake Phelps led off the game with a flyout to right field early in the count, but from then on the Bulldogs took what the Grizzlies gave them. Ethan Beckham, the Grizzlies’ starter, struggled with command early on and was pulled by Fry before the third out was recorded in the first.
Greenwood worked five walks and took a pair of hit by pitches in the top half of the inning, eventually carrying a 6-0 lead into the field after three runs scored on passed balls in back-to-back-to-back at-bats. Then, at the bottom of the order, Jake Smith capped the outburst with a two-run double. The Bulldogs rarely chased and strayed outside the zone.
"It goes back to discipline, and that’s what we try to teach," Holloway said. "No matter who we’re playing or what the score is we try to stay disciplined with our approach and how we go about it."
But when pitches did find the zone, Greenwood put good swings on them.
"They didn’t get themselves out," Fry said. "They made us throw strikes."
2. Van Kooten solid on the mound
Greenwood’s Cooper Van Kooten never took to the mound Thursday with the game in question, throwing with at least a five run lead throughout. Despite the game having no meaning for the Bulldogs in conference play, the starter showed no sign of a letdown.
Van Kooten gave up seven hits, struck out two and did not issue a walk in a complete game effort (five innings). Combined with No. 1 pitcher Connor Noland, the two could spark a run in the 6A state playoffs in the coming weeks on the mound.
3. Grizzlies stare down adversity
Northside’s season yielded less than a handful of wins (3) as a young club. With just eight seniors on Fry’s roster, he had to rely heavily on inexperienced players for a majority of the season. With the losses to Southside Monday and Tuesday, the Grizzlies finished the season winless in 7A-West play.
But if there’s something the coaches and players can carry with them into the offseason and even next season, it’s that the group didn’t quit on one another, Fry says.
"If they didn’t know adversity, they do now, and know how to fight through it. But they never gave up," the coach said. "They’re trying to leg out singles against Southside, leaving their feet for balls and played hard until the last pitch. That’s about all we can ask of them."
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