By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Brighton Cardinals were three outs away from a 5-0 start under new Head Coach Michael Wickersham.
Instead of lamenting over the 3-2 lost to the Bartlett Panthers on opening night, Coach Wick has his players focused on pitching, good defense and an aggressive approach on the base paths and at the plate.
That strategy worked last Thursday night when the MHEA Eagles came to Brighton Field. The Cardinals jumped out early with three runs leading to a 8-1 victory.
“We’ve been pretty aggressive on the base paths,” Wickersham said. “It flows over to the defense. They get excited, stay focused and play attention to detail out on the field.
“This is a great group to coach,” he add. “It’s been fun sitting back and watching them play.”
Wickersham watched his starter Lane Turner shut down MHEA in the first inning with a double play and fly out. When Brighton took to the plate in its half of the first, Bentley Jones singled with one out.
Ladarius Williams followed with another base hit driving in Jones to make the score 1-0.
The No. 4 hitter Kolton Childress drove in Williams with Brighton’s third base hit of the inning. The fourth single of the first inning came courtesy of Hayden Smith driving in Childress to make the score 3-0 in the first inning.
“We start off with a freshman (Eli Davis),” Coach Wick noted. “That’s a freshman left hander leading off for us. He starts the whole thing. Right after him we have a bunch of guys who got some power. We’ve got D William and Kolton Childress right there.
“They can handle their bats,” he added. “Hayden Smith has been hot in the five-hole. You can’t ask for a better leader, a better hitter, a better defensive player in Bentley Jones behind the plate. There’s a reason he’s going to play Division I baseball.”
Jones signed to play baseball at UT Martin next year. Another Cardinal likely to follow in those footsteps is Williams. The junior infielder drove two runs in the second inning with a double to make the score 5-0.
Brighton added two more runs in the fourth inning. Chase Kidd led off the inning with a double. Then Davis smacked a two-bagger to drive in Kidd to make the score 6-0. Childress drove in the seventh run with a sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals were ahead 8-0 after five innings when a passed ball allowed a run to cross the plate. With the offense down for the night, it was time for the Brighton defense to steal the spotlight. The Eagles had two runners on the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth.
With the ball hit to centerfield, Davis unleashed a laser to Jones that nailed the MHEA runner with ease.
The Eagles did manage to score a run in the seventh inning. But the game ended when Kidd had a diving stop at second base in the outfield. He tossed out the MHEA batter at first base with a throw form his knees.