The Courtland baseball team concluded its season with an 18–4 mark on Friday after losing 10–1 to the visiting Hanover Hawks in the Region 4B quarterfinals.
“They put the pressure on us and we did some things that we normally wouldn’t do,” Cougars coach Chris Meek said.
University of Virginia commit Jackson Garland got the start on the mound for the Cougars. He gave up six hits and added three strikeouts; he also produced a double at the plate.
Hanover (14–8) had their ace on the mound, Virginia Military Institute commit Nolan Williamson. He pitched five innings, allowing five hits while striking out five, and also contributed a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning. Siblings Cole and Brandon Elrod added two hits each and a pair of RBIs.
Entering the offseason, Meek said he told his disappointed players “the most important thing is the mental aspect, the mental toughness.” He stressed to the Cougars the season’s goal was to be a team, not individuals, out on the field. With a big loss like Friday night, he said to his Cougars, the individual things will come up and hurt them.
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Looking to next season, Meek indicated he’ll work to get the Cougars to focus on encouraging one another, supporting one another, and bringing the energy like Hanover did.
“They are a good program,” he said. “(The Hawks)do everything right and don’t make many mistakes, so we have to be able to match that.”
While the Cougars didn’t quite match that on Friday, Meek said he hopes the program can sustain the good things from this season. He said he wants his players to work on being more competitive as a team in high-pressure situations as they move forward into the next season.
Early in the second inning, Jackson Garland got out of a bases–loaded jam, allowing one run that came on a passed ball. Hanover executed situations with runners in scoring position and capitalized on Courtland’s mistakes.
Cole Elrod hit a sacrifice fly to give the Hawks a 2–0 lead in the third and they continued to put the pressure on Garland by putting the ball in play and taking advantage of the Cougars’ errors.
In the fifth inning, Courtland’s Grant Wingert led off with a double down the line. Tyler Jackson gog a bunt down to advance Wingert to third and Nate Jackson was able to hit a groundball that scored Wingert for the only run of the game for the Cougars.
“We are one unit, not individuals,” said Meek, adding the fifth inning was exactly what he wanted to see out of his players. The coach said it was disappointing the Cougars didn’t execute enough of those aspects throughout the game, but he added the players will look to build on the success they brought this year into the next season.