For the first time in almost a year, high school baseball was back.
The annual Lauderdale County Baseball Tournament was more than just a kickoff to the season for the school district’s four teams — it was a return to their normal routine following last year’s season getting cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was great to be able to play again and to compete,” said West Lauderdale head coach Jason Smith, whose team took wins against Clarkdale and Southeast Lauderdale Saturday. “It was a great atmosphere.”
CLARKDALE 9, NORTHEAST LAUDERDALE 4
Cal Culpepper went 3-for-3 for Clarkdale, and Colson Thompson was 2-for-2 with a double as the Bulldogs beat Northeast Lauderdale in the opening game.
Parker Webb was also 2-for-2 for Clarkdale, while Gavin Moffett had a double and three RBIs. Walker Swearingen got the win, pitching three innings and giving up no hits while striking out five.
For Northeast Lauderdale, Jack Caldwell had two RBIs, while Derek Clayton drove in one runner. Ben Carpenter took the loss, surrendering nine runs, eight earned, on 10 hits while striking out three.
WEST LAUDERDALE 16, SOUTHEAST LAUDERDALE 2
Cade Kennedy went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and seven RBIs as the Knights beat Southeast Lauderdale.
Brett Busbea finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Knights, and Jackson Parker was 2-for-3. Brooks Buchanan, Commondre Cole, Brandon Epting, Leighton Jenkins and tanner Parker all doubled.
For Southeast Lauderdale, Mason Grogan had a double.
Cole Wilkerson got the win for West Lauderdale, giving up one run on two hits with three strikeouts in three innings of work. Grogan took the loss, surrendering eight runs, five earned, on eight hits while striking out two.
SOUTHEAST LAUDERDALE 2, NORTHEAST LAUDERDALE 1
Will Wood was 2-for-2 with a walk for Southeast Lauderdale as the Tigers edged Northeast Lauderdale in the penultimate game of Saturday’s tournament.
Mason Grogan walked twice for the Tigers, while Northeast Lauderdale’s Hayes Hinson doubled, while Derek Clayton walked twice for the Trojans, as did Brock Butler and Chance Guisgond.
“It feels great to be back on the field, and it feels even better that it was 60 degrees,” Southeast Lauderdale coach Shay Cooper said. “We made a lot of mistakes and have to get a lot better, but it’s good if you can improve and still manage to get a W out of it. We’ll proudly take it.”
WEST LAUDERDALE 2, CLARKDALE 1
Mason Willis got the win for West Lauderdale, giving up one run on three hits and striking out six in three innings of work as the Knights edged Clarkdale in the tournament’s final game.
Kennedy and Willis both drove in runs for West Lauderdale, while Walker Swearingen had his team’s one RBI. Neither team had any multiple hitters.
The Bulldogs’ Houston Wedgeworth and Cal Culpepper both had strong showings on the mound, with Wedgeworth going three innings and giving up one run on two hits while striking out five. Culpepper pitched two innings, surrendering one run on one hit and also struck out five.
“We had a really good game (against Southeast),” Smith said. “Some of our guys got some good innings to pitch, and we swung the bat really well. In the second game we faced two really good pitchers on a good team, and it was good for us to see that kind of pitching. Hopefully it’ll prepare us for later on down the road.”