For three days Soddy-Daisy's baseball players had listened to their coach's heart-to-heart addresses because of their 3-3 record.
Coach Jared Hensley might have talked about winning and losing one day, respect for their field, clubhouse and dugout the next and caring about themselves, their coaches and their teammates the next. Just say he railed. Repeatedly.
The Trojans had heard enough and their pent-up emotions were pitted against a Central pitching staff loaded this day with freshmen and sophomores, some called up from the junior varsity. The result, at least from the Purple Pounders' point of view, was an undignified 27-0 Soddy-Daisy win.
"I don't have any problem with Soddy-Daisy. Their guys were sitting back and waiting on pitches and then stroking them," Central coach Glen Carter said after the teams' opening game in the Ooltewah Invitational. "I told our guys before the game that we were playing one of the better teams in town, that they hit the ball pretty well, and I reminded them that we didn't have much [experienced] pitching."
The coach went first with a pair of older guys on the mound, but Pounders throwers Nos. 3-6 endured little but misfortune.
"I told all of our pitchers just to work on their games and to work on keeping the ball down. We didn't do that," Carter said.
In three innings, Soddy-Daisy pounded out 19 hits including consecutive home runs from Tyler Dalton, Talen Harris and James Fowlkes in a 10-run second inning. Dalton homered on consecutive at-bats, hitting a grand slam in the third, and finished 3-for-4 with four runs scored and seven RBIs. Dalton Rogers was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
"I don't think we have ever scored that many runs," Hensley said. "I don't know that Soddy-Daisy has ever had three consecutive home runs."
Carter, whose Pounders have struggled through key pitching injuries, had to bring in his district ace, Brannon Davis, to get the final two outs in the top of the third simply to try and get the game over.
Davis struck out the last two of 20 Trojans to get to the plate, and that was after Hensley had begun to substitute liberally.
"The kids told me this was the first time they had seen me smile in three days," Hensley said. "I have been frustrated; the kids have been frustrated. We have two games tomorrow and I'm hoping we play the kind of baseball Soddy-Daisy plays - do the little things right and play with high intensity."
Carter was still shaking his head a half hour after the game.
"The last time I saw a team score this many runs on this field, I think we were playing Brainerd and we were on the winning end," he said. "It's hard for the kids to swallow, much less understand, but we have to develop some pitching depth, and invitational tournaments are the time to do it."