Team finishes regular season at 17-4 despite three-game skid
By Lucas Wright
On the heels of the team’s roughest stretch of the season, the Vienna Eagles are moving on to postseason play.
Vienna enters the regional tournament as the number one seed, finishing with a .810 winning percentage on the season. The Eagles sat at a 17-1 record after a dominating win over the Hamilton County Foxes on May 4th, and were also undefeated in conference play at 7-0.
To round out the schedule, Vienna dropped games to Goreville, Zeigler and non-conference for Benton, to finish in a tie at the top of the Black Diamond Conference West Division with Goreville at 7-2.
From head coach David Hill’s point-of-view, the losses have been not just because of mistakes or missed chances, but also because his team can’t seem to catch a break.
“For the first eight weeks of the season every bounce went our way. Every mistake that anyone else made, we capitalized on it,” Hill said. “It’s kind of been the exact opposite here for us the last three games.”
The Eagles most recent loss, a 4-2 defeat at home courtesy of the Benton Rangers on Monday, highlighted some concerns of Hill’s.
Despite only giving up four hits on the day, the Eagles pitching staff surrendered five walks and four runs, with two coming unearned.
At the plate, the offense struggled after jumping out to an early lead on a two-run shot over the left-center field fence by senior Jarrod Wiggs. The Eagles tallied four hits in the inning, yet only managed one hit throughout the rest of the game.
“We’ve got to do a better job putting the ball in play in situational hitting,” Hill said. “We can’t continue to not have productive at-bats.”
The Monday matchup with Benton was Vienna’s final tune-up for the regional beginning Wednesday, but the Eagles won’t be thrown to the dogs in game one of the tournament. The first matchup will come against the winner of the No. 9 and No. 10 seed matchup between Eldorado and Johnson City, hopefully providing a way for the Eagles to get back on track.
The players are not short on confidence despite the outcomes over the past few weeks. Wiggs has paced the Eagles offense and led the team on the mound as the number one starter under Hill, and he said the team is more than ready for the playoffs.
“We’ve had some rough games lately, but we’re hitting the ball better and I think we’re ready to go,” Wiggs said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence going in, so hopefully we can hit the ball and play well.”
Regardless of the Eagles’ opponent on Wednesday, senior Ryan Bradley will get the call to the mound in the opening round game, with hopes to get him out of the game early enough to pitch in the future rounds. Wiggs is slated for Saturday’s matchup if Vienna advances.
Vienna’s opening game in the regional tournament will be in Johnson City, beginning at 4:30 on Wednesday.