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Woodland baseball fighting through setbacks
by Bobby Tedder
March 27, 2013 10:16 AM | 1953 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff/Katherine Frye
Mickell Dennis, a Woodland junior, prepares to make contact against Eagle’s Landing.

Staff/Katherine Frye Mickell Dennis, a Woodland junior, prepares to make contact against Eagle’s Landing. n
As that old saying goes: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’

That pretty much sums up Woodland baseball’s plight this season.

Beset by player absences — due to injury and illness — the (8-5) Wolfpack continue to grind it out on the diamond.

“It’s hit us big time … everything that could happen has happened to us,” said Woodland skipper Michael Hardy. “I don’t care who you’re playing — if you’re missing four or five starters, trying to get that win is going to be an [uphill battle].”

One by one, key players have gone down for the Wolfpack.

Ace pitcher Eric Smith missed time after having been hit in the knee by a pitch against Jonesboro. What’s more, he and fellow starter, outfielder Cody Still, were taken out by the flu last week.

The club’s No. 2 hurler Mickell Dennis has been trying to overcome an arm muscle injury while No. 2 hitter, infielder Malcolm Nicholas, hasn’t been able to swing a bat since being hit (twice) in the hand in a game against Stockbridge March 12.

A lot of adversity for one team, indeed. But, Woodland does have some bright spots — mainly the scintillating play of a trio of standouts.

Junior outfielder/reliever Theo Smith is hitting .400 dating back to that Stockbridge game. Senior catcher Josh Evans has been a doubles machine while batting .375 and knocking in 13 runs in his last 40 plate appearances.

Leadoff hitter T.J. Riles has also been on a tear. The junior lefty is batting a hefty .515 — with 12 RBI, two homeruns and three triples — on the season.

“A lot of people would use [Riles] as their No. 3 hitter, but we wouldn’t,” said Hardy. “We kind of see him as our best hitter and he’s got good speed, so we want him to get as many at-bats as possible.”

Whereas the Woodland offense is red hot — evidenced by its 15-0 drubbing of North Clayton March 22 — consistently taking care of business on the other side of the ball has been an issue.

The Wolfpack coach acknowledged that shoring up its defense is high up on his team’s list of immediate priorities.

No one around the Woodland clubhouse can dispute the fact that the squad has its back against the wall in terms of its postseason prospects.

Still, it wouldn’t be wise to shovel dirt on the Wolfpack at this point.

Because (a) its missing players’ ailments aren’t season-ending; and (b) parity reigns in Region 4-AAAA.

“Hopefully, if we get everybody back … we’ve still got a chance to win it,” Hardy said. “But, we’ve got to win a lot of games — still, there’s not one team that’s head and shoulders above everybody else.”

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