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Rockets look strong at LIT

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By Todd Martin

The SCHS baseball team went 1-2 in the Louisville Invitational Tournament, but head coach Bart Roettger said that record was deceiving.

"It depends on how you look at it," he said. "You could say going 1-2 was disappointing, but at the same time I thought we played as well as we have all year."

The Rockets fell 11-1 in five innings to No. 14 Ballard on Thursday, but the game was tied at 1 going into the fourth when Ballard erupted for seven runs, due in part to two SCHS errors. The Rockets then topped Christian County 4-1 on Friday. Christian County received six votes to the Rockets' seven in the latest coaches' association poll. On Saturday, Shelby County hung tough with No. 8 Tates Creek before falling 4-1. Again the game was tied at 1 going into the fourth when Tates Creek got a three-run home run.

"I thought we represented ourselves well and easily could have been 2-1," he said. "Really, we had a good week. We beat Spencer County 11-0 Tuesday to clinch the No. 1 seed in the district, and then played well at Ballard in the LIT. We had two goals going into last week, one was to clinch the district's top seed and we did that. The other was to beat at least one elite team, and we did that with the win over Christian County. They have been in two championship games since 2003, and have built a heck of a program down there."

Roettger said the Rockets continued to get solid pitching performances, and noted that the bats are starting to come around.

"We had nine hits against Ballard, seven against Christian County and seven against Tates Creek," he said. "We are hitting the ball hard and spreading it around the field, but we just need to string a few hits together. That's the only difference between the win over Christian County and the other two games."

While pitching and defense have led the team all season, Roettger said the hitting is getting close.

"Daniel Davenport is probably the hottest hitter on the team right now," he said. "We got a chance to work him into the line-up and he responded with six RBIs on three hits against Spencer, two hits against Ballard and one against Christian County. He really took advantage of his opportunity, and I think that's carrying over to the other guys. Nick Hamblen had a couple of hits against Tates Creek and Jordan Burk had a couple hits against Christian County. So we're starting to get some production from guys that either haven't had the opportunity or that have been struggling. This team has a lot of hitters, but we just need to get everybody on the same page and putting hits together. It's just a matter of time."

Plus, the Rockets' schedule may have played a part in that. Before the season Roettger said he wanted a difficult schedule, and he hasn't changed his tune, knowing that the regular season will get the team ready for the postseason. However, after taking a look at the team's strength of schedule, he noted that it has been even more difficult than he thought it would be.

"We took a look at it the other day and we're 13-8 against a schedule with a combined 320 wins," he said. "That makes our 13 wins look very strong, especially when you consider what we lost from last year and the injuries we've suffered this year. I think it's really going to pay off at the end of the year. Our guys are gaining confidence every day because we're giving ourselves an opportunity to win every game. Guys aren't hanging their heads after a loss because we're in every game. We just have to put some hits together, we're not far off from these elite teams were playing."