Panthers win Indiana tourney

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By Kristin Beck

The Carroll County baseball team won three games in two days to be crowned champions of the Madison Courier Invitational Tournament over the weekend. Zakk Hicks was named MVP of the tournament.

The Panthers (11-8) have been struggling at the plate lately, but head coach Josh Mefford is hopeful that the team has turned the corner. “I think we finally got out of the slump, and everyone hit the ball at the same time,” he said. “I knew we could do it because I throw to them every day in the cage and they hit the crap out of the ball.”

The head coach said everyone played well, making it difficult to select an MVP. He said he was disappointed that the tournament did not have an All-Tournament team because there were several players he would have liked to recognize.

Hicks was 6-10 from the plate and closed two games for the Panthers. He also made a key play in the final game against Madison. In the top of the sixth, Hicks caught a fly ball in right field and threw out a runner attempting to score. If the runner had scored, it would have put Madison up by two runs. Carroll would eventually come back in the bottom of the seventh to win the game and the championship.

The other outstanding player in the running for MVP honors was Austin Dunn. He was 5-12 with a walk and a hit by pitch and played both second base and catcher. He had three tag outs at home plate from outfield throws from Dillon Craig and Hicks.

In game one Friday night, Carroll defeated Shawe 8-4. Derrick Nickell pitched six innings, striking out seven and walking two. Closer Hicks faced five batters and struck out four.

Carroll had four hits in the game: a double by John Michael Adams and singles by Dunn, Craig and Jacob Wise.

In its second game Friday, Carroll defeated Southwestern by the same score, 8-4. But the Panthers hit the ball much better, notching 11 hits. Hicks led the way with a double and a single, while Wise and Craig hit two singles each. Dunn, Adams, Trey Boles, Zach Beckham and Chase Osborne also singled.

Keifer McIntyre started on the mound and struck out three and walked just one in six innings of work. Hicks closed the game, striking out three of five batters.

Carroll faced the Madison Cubs in the championship. They started the game ahead, scoring two runs in the first. Madison answered with four runs on three hits in the second.

Adams started the game for Carroll and pitched two innings. Chase Osborne took over in the third inning and pitched through the sixth. Madison added three more runs in the fourth, 7-2.

But the Panthers woke up in the fourth, scoring four runs on four hits. Hicks started things off with a single, and Beckham followed with a walk. Osbornereached on a bunt single, and Dunn was hit by a pitch, scoring the first run. Beckham scored on a wild pitch, 7-4. Craig and Boles followed with RBI singles, 7-6.

Craig came to the mound in the top of the seventh and was the picture of efficiency. He faced three batters and struck out all three on 13 pitches.

Down 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Adams led off with a single, and McIntyre was hit by a pitch. Hicks singled, loading the bases. With one out, Osborne hit an RBI single to win the game.

The Panthers notched 13 hits in the game. Hicks led the way with two singles and a double. Boles also doubled and had a single. Dunn had three singles, while Osborne had two. Wise, Craig and Adams each had one single.

“They hit the ball so well this weekend,” Mefford said. “I just hope it carries on the rest of the year.”