May 29—Owensboro Catholic has emerged as one of the top high school baseball teams in Kentucky, and it starts the postseason in the 9th District Tournament on Saturday.
Top seed Catholic takes on host Owensboro at 3 p.m. at Jack Hicks Field at Shifley Park.
The bleachers will be cleared after the first game to follow COVID protocols for cleaning.
Apollo and Daviess County face each other at 7 p.m.
The district championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m.
Catholic is 27-5 and ranked No. 3 in the latest Prep Baseball Report Kentucky high school poll. While Catholic has excelled on the field, it has done a good job of not letting rankings affect its play.
“With high school, the way the postseason is set up, rankings have no bearing,” Catholic coach Derek Hibbs said. “We’ve got to go out and play, and we’ve done that to this point.”
The Aces have good hitting up and down the lineup and speed on the bases. They’ve hit 55 doubles, and seven players have between 22 and 30 RBIs. Luke Scales (.463) has 30 RBIs with 12 doubles and four home runs. Braden Mundy and Finley Munsey have 29 RBIs each, and Mundy has five home runs.
Hunter Small is batting .419 and Sam McFarland is hitting .404.
Catholic has gone 9-2 down the stretch since May 11, including a 12-2 win over Walton-Verona for the All ‘A’ Classic state baseball championship. The Aces lost to Henderson County 8-7 and Louisville St. Xavier 9-2.
“We’ve definitely had, from a schedule perspective, a tough last two weeks,” Hibbs said. “We’ve played several ranked teams, we were very competitive in every game. We had a long road trip in there, we were pleased with the effort.”
Hayden Ward and Finley Munsey have each thrown 36 innings this season as starters for the Aces. Munsey is 6-0 and has a 1.36 ERA with 48 strikeouts. Ward is 6-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 45 strikeouts. McFarland has a 1.85 ERA in 34 innings and is 6-2.
Owensboro has had a young lineup go through a 6-20 season for coach Logan Johnson.
The Red Devils were led by senior Ethan Gibson with a .338 batting average and 17 RBIs. Gibson also had a 2.29 ERA in eight pitching starts. Connor Hallmark has started seven games pitching.
Apollo has the second-best record in the 3rd Region at 22-8 and has gone 7-2 since May 10 and also faced some state-level competition against McCracken County and Louisville Trinity.
“I like where we’re at right now, coming back from COVID we’ve played well for the most part,” Apollo coach Mason Head said. “We ran into a couple of top-tier teams, played well against one, didn’t play well against the other.
McCracken won 5-2 and Louisville Trinity won 13-1.
“I’ve been seeing some things I like and we’re waiting on all of them to come together in one singular moment,” Head said.
Harrison Bowman leads the team with a .398 batting average and 34 stolen bases. Dan St. Clair is batting .315 with a team-high 26 RBIs. Max Holder is hitting .377 with 21 RBIs and 10 doubles.
Apollo has looked to play within a certain style, and Head has seen that more as the season has gone on. This team has meshed better than any Head has been in charge of in eight years total as a head coach.
“Top to bottom, the guys have bought into our message and philosophy,” Head said.
Tyler Payne has a team-high 34 innings pitched and a 1.41 ERA. Payne is 4-1 as a starter. Will Strode is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA.
Daviess County is 14-14 and has gone 6-3 down the stretch for coach Austin Clay.
Decker Renfrow has a .455 batting average and has scored 35 runs, both team-highs for the Panthers. Garrett Small has a team-high 33 RBIs and a .309 batting average. Zach Head is hitting .352. Head has 17 RBIs, along with Cason Troutman.
Austin Curtis has a 1.46 ERA and 33 innings. Jackson Loucks is 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 30 innings. Hunter Payne has 30 strikeouts in 36 innings.