The Bearden Bears started the 2023 baseball season with a series of tough non-conference opponents in the Bearden Baseball Classic.
After a tough 3-2 loss to the Junction City Dragon on Feb. 27, they were able to rebound with a comeback win over the Foreman Gators 6-4. Since then, the Bears have suffered losses to Parkers Chapel, Hampton, Spring Hill and Junction City for the second time in the season.
The Bears were able to bounce back from their 1-5 start to the season with a 6-1 win at home over the Lafayette County Cougars on March 14 in their first conference game of the season.
Bearden jumped to an impressive 4-0 lead at the bottom of the first inning. After the Cougars were able to account for one run at the top of the fourth inning, the Bears responded with their own at the bottom of the fourth.
Sophomore catcher Pierce Finley accounted for a team-high two runs and two walks in his two-bat appearances. Junior pitcher Hudson Young, sophomore centerfielder Bryce Whisenhunt, sophomore Tristian Olvey and junior designated hitter Brayden Newton were the other players to account for runs in the win over Lafayette County. Young pitched a stellar game, as he allowed only three hits and one run while delivering 13 strikeouts.
On Friday, March 17, the Bears hosted the Mineral Springs Hornets in one of their last non-conference games of 2023. Bearden took down Mineral Springs 4-2 after a four-run performance at the bottom of the second inning. Whisenhunt accounted for one run, one hit, two RBIs and one walk in the win. Olvey was the starting pitcher for the Bears, allowing only two hits, two walks and one run in the first two innings. Young came in the last five innings and had another stellar pitching performance as he allowed one hit, two walks and one run while delivering 13 strikeouts. Young delivered 26 strikeouts in the two wins last week.
"(Young is) really coming along with some good velocity in his junior year," head coach Brandon Austin said. "We've got to keep working to make plays and get the bats going a little more as the season continues."
The Bears have a young team, as their only senior that starts is Mason Newton at first baseman. They rely on talented sophomores and juniors to get the rhythm going in the batting game. There are even freshmen like Markevius Jimerson and Lino Watkins that have played a significant amount of game time. Once the Bears develop a season rhythm, they will be a hard team to defeat on a night-in and night-out basis.
Defensively, the Bears are efficient, as they have allowed an average of 2.3 runs per game in their three wins. There remains some work to be done offensively, as the Bears have averaged 3.9 runs per game in all eight of their games.
The Bears, however, feel that they have the momentum moving forward with their two most recent wins and starting conference play on the right track. Bearden will be back on the field on Tuesday, March 28, in a big rivalry matchup versus the Hampton Bulldogs (4-3; 1-0 in conference play).