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The Aucilla Warriors are back on the diamond

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Baseball season is here and after the Pre-Season Classic, playing two “heavy favorites to win,” according to Head Coach Thornton Davis, the Aucilla Christian Academy Warriors were ready to roll on Feb. 9 against Rickards in their first game of the season-- especially after a 7-6 pre-season victory over NFC, defending 3A state champs. “Rickards is a very good, well-coached 5A team and we were able to overcome an early 6-0 deficit and finish with a 7-7 tie,” said Davis. “I normally despise ties, but I'll take this one considering the early deficit and the lack of pitching we had available...To come away with a tie was very satisfying for our team.” The Warriors faced John Paul II on Feb. 12 and lost 7-4. “Going into this game, our plan was to pitch Senior Shawn Blue, but due to soreness from an awkward diving play in Monday's game, we decided to rest him and go with Sophomore lefty, Joe Hannon,” said Davis. “Joe pitched very well and gave the Warriors a chance to win.” Hannon pitched five innings, walked two, struck out five and allowed four runs, however Coach Davis asserts two were unearned. “He did everything we needed him to do,” said Davis. Mason Collins' hitting game was on point, going 2-3; he drove in one and scored one run, doubling in the fourth inning and singling in the sixth. The Warriors climbed back and began to catch up after two runs in the top of the seventh due to an error and a passed ball. However, their comeback wasn't enough and they lost the game, 7-4. “John Paul II added three runs late in the game (all unearned) due to some defensive mistakes, but I have confidence that we will clean up the mistakes and be ready to go by the time we meet up with them again,” said Davis. “At the end of the day, we still have a lot of things to get better at and I'm extremely confident in where we are at this point in the season.” The Warriors faced off with Tallavana on Feb. 19. This time, they picked up the pace and pulled a 14-4 victory. 14 runs were racked up in only the first three innings. The first inning gave the Warriors an edge with a two-run triple by Austin Bishop and a sacrifice fly by Ty Chancy. The second inning brought a two-run double by DJ Wilkinson, an RBI single by Chancy, a two-run single by Nick Roberts and a two-run triple by Shawn Blue. Steven Trest worked wonders on the pitching mound and allowed zero hits for a little over two innings, allowing no earned runs, walking one and striking out a whopping six. In the third inning, the Warriors scored on a three-run home run by Mason Collins. This game resulted in a needed win, placing the Warriors at 1-0 in district play. Despite their victory against Tallavana, on Feb. 20, the Warriors played Valwood and lost 5-1. “Coach Shipman has built an amazing team that boasted a lineup of 25 players; three of which have committed to play at the college level,” said Head Coach Davis. “We were one hit or one play away from either taking the lead or tying the game. I am convinced that these close games (win or lose) are very beneficial to our team. Playing this caliber of competition is very tough and sometimes even a little unfair for the players, but it forces us to concentrate and focus.” Overall, these young men have shown true determination, athleticism and Warrior pride since beginning their season. It is evident they will work hard and remain focused as the season continues. “There is no doubt that in the long run, it will have our team more prepared both mentally and physically for the playoffs,” said Davis. “I've never been one to be too consumed with wins/losses; I'm more of a preparation and effort kind of guy. The players have responded well and I expect a strong finish from this team. As soon as we get the dust knocked off and the kinks out, we will be just fine.”

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