Face Edgewood in opening round May 3
By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
PALMER–The Kemp Yellowjackets baseball team secured third place in District 13-2A play April 25. The 5-0 win over Red Oak Life came behind the pitching of senior Corey Watkins. The game was played at a neutral site in Palmer.
In the tiebreaker game, Watkins struck out 12 Mustangs in seven innings of play. Watkins was just two outs away from a no-hitter, before he allowed the first Red Oak Life player on base in the sixth inning.
Head Coach Brandon Hankins had high praise for Watkins.
“He really stepped up big for us and showed what a good leader he is,” Hankins said.
“He has been pitching here since he was a freshman and has the opportunity to play at the next level if he desires.”
Kemp’s big win pits them against District 14 runner-up Edgewood May 3, rather than its winner, Grand Saline.
Hankins is pleased to make the playoffs, but tells The Monitor that the ’Jackets aren’t satisfied with merely appearing in the playoffs.
“One of our goals since preseason, was to make the playoffs,” he said. “This is our second consecutive year to appear in the UIL tournament and we want to get past the first round.”
In the first inning Kemp took the lead by scoring and never surrendered it to Red Oak Life.
Early on the ’Jackets took control of the game by capitalizing on multiple Mustang mistakes.
Calbert Hukill scored Kemp’s first run after he drew a walk and advanced all the way home after multiple passed palls for a 1-0 Kemp lead.
The Yellowjackets scored two more runs in the second inning when Matt Dedie’s single brought Jesse Hall and Beau Dancer home for the 3-0 lead. The ’Jackets had the opportunity to put the game away in the third, but were picked off at third base on two separate occasions to end the offensive threat.
Watkins closed the second inning with a dominant pitching frame, striking out the side and retiring the Mustangs in order.
Kemp scored another run in the third inning when Hall’s grounder allowed Davis Dennis to come home for the 4-0 lead.
Mustang pitching problems allowed the final run of the game for the ’Jackets in the fifth inning. After Hukill led off with a single, Watkins and Bryce Allison drew walks to load the bases for Hall. Hall’s good batting eye forced a third consecutive walk for the 5-0 lead. Kemp’s inning finally ended by Red Oak Life striking out the next two Yellowjackets batters.
Watkins sixth inning was another perfect, three-strikeout affair. The no-hit bid was finally broken up in the seventh with one out in the can. Nailing down the second out of the inning was a fly fall to the outfield and allowed the second runner on base (a single), Watkins ended the game with a exclamation point, striking out his twelfth Mustang batter and securing the Kemp victory.