Daviess County baseball was poised for a potentially big spring in 2020. The Panthers had 10 seniors, enough experience to be in the mix as a top team in the 3rd Region.
Then COVID-19 ended whatever hopes that squad may have had.
The DC baseball team that started this season 3-0 is very inexperienced by comparison, but it is also adapting to the moment.
The Panthers fell in consecutive games Friday and Saturday. Harrison County beat DC 13-11 on Friday, then Ohio County put up five runs in the fifth inning to push it to an 11-8 win on a sun-splashed Saturday at DC.
The starting lineup for DC has been Hunter Payne at shortstop, Cason Troutman, who was pitching Saturday, Owen Payne at third base, and Garrett Small at designated hitter at the top of the lineup.
Zack Head was catching, Decker Renfrow was in right field, Mason Boswell was in centerfield, Brock Brubaker was in left field and Layton Huskisson was at second base in the bottom of the order. Blake Coons was at first base.
Renfrow and Hunter Payne each had two hits to lead DC against Ohio County. Huskisson had a triple and three RBIs. Hunter and Owen Payne each had a double.
The Eagles’ Ashton Farris got the complete-game victory. Farris struck out five DC batters, giving up eight runs and seven hits.
Deacon Addis had two RBIs for Ohio County. Brian Tichenor was 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Farris also had two hits.
Jaylen Walker and Jacob Gregory each had three hits for Ohio County.
DC’s batting order has stayed the same through the first week of games. Playing a bundle of games early probably helped a young team.
“I think it was a good thing,” said DC coach Austin Clay, who was also working his first week as head coach. “A lot of them never really played above freshman, JV, and it kind of hit them in a hurry this week. By playing so many games so fast, we were able to get a lot of guys a lot of experience that they needed.”
The Panthers didn’t seem overwhelmed, coming back from deficits for wins. They beat Greenwood 6-5 and Grayson County 9-4 at DC.
“That’s what I’ve been pleasantly pleased with, they don’t really seem to be fazed by anything,” Clay said. “They’ve been thrown into the fire this week with a lot of games in a short amount of time, they’ve done pretty well. It seems like they enjoy playing, it’s a fun group to be around, they pick each other up.”
DC’s pitching strength was put to the test this week, using multiple pitchers in a 12-8 win over Muhlenberg County in 10 innings on Monday to start the season.
DC used three pitchers on Saturday in the loss to Ohio County. Austin Curtis took the loss.
Troutman, Owen Payne, Hunter Payne, Austin Curtis, and Jackson Loucks are all in the pitching rotation. In the opening week they either started one game or threw innings of relief.
Of that collection of DC players, Small, who is the regular catcher, and Troutman would have had the best chances to break into the starting lineup if there had been one in 2020.
In all, Clay felt like he had a pretty good first week as the Daviess County baseball head coach.
“We’re just young, young, but they haven’t been scared of anything,” Clay said of the team. “It’s been a lot of fun. Personally, I haven’t had a chance to reflect, but overall for the week it’s a lot of fun coming out here every single day.”