By The Arkadelphian
What began as a temporary addition to the uniform for games scheduled during the week of St. Patrick’s Day has turned into a permanent addition to the Arkadelphia Badger baseball uniform even into this week’s 4A State Baseball Tournament in Nashville.
Arkadelphia Badger head coach Drew Loe ordered green caps for the Badgers to wear during two games the week of St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks to a late-season string of wins in those green caps, the non-Badger colored lids have become a regular part of the uniform for the Badgers and have sparked several questions along the way.
The first game in the green caps was a conference game at Bauxite on Monday, March 14, which the Badgers won 10-3 and moved to 2-0 in 4A-7 play thanks to a late-game surge of runs.
The players originally were somewhat skeptical of the green caps. So much so, in fact, that they wanted to wear them in a non-conference game later that week against 5A powerhouse Little Rock Christian in case a loss might force a switch back to the normal blue caps. The Badgers trailed early in the game when they had a lucky break and thunderstorms descended on Arkadelphia, causing the game to be canceled and the green caps to still be undefeated.
The game scheduled for Friday of that week – March 18 – was also rained out and the Badgers headed to Spring Break ready to tackle the rest of the 4A-7 schedule after the break – in their blue caps.
Loe had other thoughts, though, and the Badgers showed up to Nashville on Tuesday, March 29, in the first game after Spring Break and well after St. Patrick’s Day, wearing their traditional Badger blue jerseys and white pants, but still sporting the green caps.
While some fans — and probably players, too — were puzzled as to why the green caps were still making an appearance, around two hours later those same people knew the caps weren’t going anywhere for a while.
Arkadelphia again used a big inning late in the game to pull away from the Scrappers for a 12-1 win to move to 3-0 in conference play. In the post-game interview, Badger play-by-play voice Blake Bell got Loe to confirm what most began to think as the Badger lead grew throughout the game – the green caps weren’t going anywhere for a while.
And they didn’t. And they haven’t.
The Badgers had a run of good luck — and good baseball — over the next three weeks leading to a perfect 14-0 record in 4A-7 play the rest of the season en route to an outright conference championship and the 1-seed in last week’s 4A South Regional at Malvern. Every conference game featured the Badgers in some combination of their colors of blue, white, red — and now green. The only game when Arkadelphia did not wear the green caps during the stretch was a non-conference midweek game against Woodlawn the first week in April. The Badgers wore blue caps – and let a lead slip away for an 11-9 loss.
The Badgers took their 14-0 conference record — and their green caps — to Malvern last week where they continued their run and won the 4A South Regional Tournament. On Friday, Arkadelphia came from behind to defeat Crossett 13-6 to clinch a berth in this week’s 4A State Tournament in Nashville. On Saturday, Arkadelphia came from behind again to defeat Star City in the semifinals and followed that up with a 13-5 come-from behind win over Monticello later Saturday night to win the Regional Championship and earn a first-round bye in the state tournament.
The 12-team 4A State Tournament begins Thursday at Wilson Park in Nashville, but the bye earned by the Badgers thanks to winning the 4A South Regional allows the Badgers to not play until the quarterfinals on Friday. Arkadelphia enters the state tournament with an overall record of 18-4.
Friday at 12:30, Arkadelphia will face the winner of Thursday afternoon’s game between Farmington and Valley View. Farmington was the regular season champion of the 4A-1 conference in northwest Arkansas. The Cardinals (18-9-1) suffered a hiccup in the North Regional and enter the state tournament as the 4-seed from their region.
Valley View (26-6) is the defending 4A State Champion and the regular season champion in the 4A-3 conference in northeast Arkansas. The Blazers lost to Lonoke in the 4A East Regional semifinal before earning the 3-seed from the region with a 12-0 win over Joe T. Robinson in the consolation game.
The top half of the bracket where Arkadelphia finds itself could be considered the toughest half as it features four of the five teams in the state tournament who won their respective regular season conference championships. In addition to Farmington, Valley View and Arkadelphia, the Lonoke Jackrabbits won the 4A-2 regular season matchup and are a potential semifinal matchup for the winner of Arkadelphia’s game on Friday. To see the entire 4A State Tournament bracket, click here.
Fans who plan to make the one-hour drive to Nashville will need to purchase their tickets online before entrance to the park. Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased here.
Fans who can’t attend the game can watch the Arkadelphia broadcast at this link.
After getting over the initial hesitancy of wearing green caps, the Badgers and their fans have embraced the different look and the results that have come since donning the green caps. The team is selling t-shirts commemorating their conference and regional championships. The shirts are – you guessed it – green. You can order your shirt here.
The team now returns to the same park in Nashville where it became apparent that the green caps weren’t going anywhere, but not many would have expected Arkadelphia to still be wearing the caps almost two months later. Some might try to get the team to switch back to the blue for the state tournament.
Good luck with that.