“Nothing changes but the faces.” There is a lot of truth in that old saying, especially in sports except at Independence High School. Rex “Butch” Bryant, Ethan Kile, Jordan Woods, Parker Hardison, the list is a short one but these young men are cut from a different cloth. Pandemics raged, Principals and Athletic Directors departed, teammates grew disillusioned and quit, however these four young men persevered through it all and for their efforts they and their parents were honored Tuesday night at IHS’s 2021 Senior Night.
Things looked promising for the Cats early on as they came into the district contest looking to shake off a 4 game losing streak. Starting pitcher Ethan Kile played his part allowing just one run in the top half of the first inning. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, the Wildcats led-off with Jayden Watkins who reached first on a fly ball to left field.
This brought up Hardison who battled to a full count before striking out. Ethan Kile was up next and hit a scorching line drive down the third base line that literally knocked the third baseman off the bag. The Senatobia catcher mishandled the following pitch allowing Watkins and Kile to both steal a base putting runners on second and third. The clean-up hitter, Bryson Davis hit a hard ball back to the pitcher who made the second out of the inning but not before Watkins scored from third. The next Wildcat up made the final out of the inning and both teams were no better than when they started now tied 1-1.
Neither team converted hits to runs in the second inning and it wasn’t until the top of the third that Warriors came alive at the plate scoring 4 runs to push out ahead on the scoreboard 5-1. After a previous trip to the mound, Coach Edwards handed the ball to Butch Bryant in relief of Kile. Butch gave up 6 runs on 3 hits 3 walks while striking out 2. Trailing 11-1 at this point Coach Edwards called on the services of eighth grade reliever, Dallas Stepp. Dallas struck out 1 and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits including a homerun late in the game.
Independence was unable to score after the first inning and fell to the warriors 17-1. All totaled, Kile, Bryant, and Stepp combined to allow 17 runs on 14 hits and 9 walks. Behind them the Wildcat fielders committed 16 errors.
Offensively, it could have been the surprise cold front that moved in when the sun went down, or a case of late season fatigue, but the Cat bats were ice cold, producing only 1 run off of 4 hits. Ethan Kile produced half of the offense; getting 2 hits in 2 at bats. Following Kile, Rex Bryant and Bryson Davis both went 1 for 2 and David had a RBI in the 1st inning.
The Braves are now in second place in 3A Region 2 with an 8-1 district record and the Wildcats are 2 games behind Senatobia at 6-4. The two teams will meet again Friday night at 7:00 pm at Senatobia to finish up the series. Following the conclusion of the Senatobia series the Wildcats will finish out their regular season on the road against Whitehaven High School in Memphis.