By Mike Meeks
For The Arkadelphian
It’s 71 degrees and sunny.
The landscape is filled with blue and purple attire, the aroma of the outdoor grill is in the air, and the sounds of children laughing and running can be heard. You couldn’t ask for a better day for baseball.
The Arkadelphia Badgers hosted the Gurdon Go-Devils in what was labeled the Clark County Diamond Classic. With both teams’ season already underway, they came together for an evening that was about more than just a game.
Before the pre-ceremony began, they took a moment to dedicate and recognize the new scoreboard that was given to Arkadelphia by its longtime supporter, Southern Bancorp.
The pre-ceremony introduced the crowd to both teams’ full roster, then took a moment of silence to remember those that had lost their life on this anniversary day of the tornado that swept through Arkadelphia. First responders from each community were given game balls, and Sheriff Jason Watson threw out the first pitch. Each school’s athletic director and various members of administration met at home plate to greet one another as a sign of unity in our community.
Each school sent members of its band to join as they played the National Anthem as the Arkadelphia Color Guard presented the flags. Now it was time for some baseball.
Pitcher #12, junior Tripp Campbell was the ace on the hill to start this night for the Badgers as he planned to make sure Gurdon didn’t put the first run on that new scoreboard, and that’s exactly what happened. Retiring the first two batters but letting the third batter get a free pass to first base, he struck out #6 Aiden Hughes, ending the inning with no hits and no runs.
Now it was the Badgers time to bat and lead off #1, senior Tate Goodrum ended up being the first Badger to score and put the run up on the brand-new Southern Bancorp scoreboard, but that’s all the Badgers could muster in the first inning.
The second inning was almost identical, with Campbell taking care of business on the mound and the Badgers just scoring one run in the second inning. In the top of the third Campbell continued to mow down Go-Devil batters by not giving up any hits or runs.
The third inning is where the Badgers seemed to come to life with a few runners on base as sophomore catcher, #23 Zane Hill came up with a big hit with a deep flyball to left field that got passed the left-fielder #8 Jake Rowan, and Arkadelphia scored three in the third inning.
Campbell returned to the top of the fourth and was dialed in, not giving the Go-Devils anything on this night. When the badgers return to the plate at the bottom of the fourth, they had all the momentum and they seize the moment by putting eight runs up with timely hitting and scoring on a few Gurdon miss cues. At the end of the fourth with a comfortable lead, that was the end and the Badgers were victorious in the Clark County Diamond Classic, defeating the Go-Devils 13-0.
But even though the score was not what some wanted it was a huge win for Clark County as the game was well attended by both communities and was a night to celebrate two fine educational institutions that have been staples in this community for a long time.
Next up for the Badgers is a trip to Lake Hamilton on March 6.