lagrangenews.com

Seniors shine for Callaway

By Kevin Eckleberry keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

April 23, 2014

When Callaway’s Jaylen Colton stepped into the batter’s box Wednesday night against Jackson, it was a special moment.


It was nothing new.


Colton is a senior, and he’s had plenty of at-bats over the years.


What made this particular at-bat so meaningful, though, was that it was his first time coming to the plate since the first game of the season when he suffered a broken thumb.


Colton had to undergo surgery, and while the feeling was he’d be able to return this season, there was serious doubt as to whether he’d be able to swing a bat, or play defense.


Colton got his cast off last week, and he’d been a part of the team as a pinch-runner since then.


Then on Wednesday, Colton showed that he’s all the way back physically when he returned to the lineup.


In the second game of a doubleader, Colton was on base three times and he had a pair of hits to help the Cavaliers finish off the sweep with a 14-2 win.


Callaway (19-4 overall) won the first game 13-0 to wrap up its Region 4-AAA schedule with a 13-1 record.


After Wednesday’s games were finished, Colton and the team’s other four seniors were recognized.


The other seniors are Chase Freeman, Colby Freeman, Nick O’Berry and Malik Malcolm.


All of the seniors made a big impact during Wednesday’s games, including Colton.


Colton not only got it done at the plate, but he also played defensively on the infield, and he even got the final two outs of the second game as a relief pitcher.


“I was glad to be back out there,” Colton said.


Colton, who had to sit out his entire freshman season after undergoing back surgery, was slated to be a starter and a key player for the Cavaliers this season.


Instead, Colton was gone after just one game, and he had to have surgery to repair the broken thumb.


“After I found out I had to have surgery, there really wasn’t much I could do,” Colton said. “I just had to be there for the team. I tried to be there every day, to be there for support.”


Heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader, Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard decided to give Colton some swings, even though he hadn’t done anything with a bat.


“That’s the first time he swung a bat (since the surgery),” Hubbard said. “He hadn’t taken BP, he hadn’t hit in a game. He got his cast a week ago, and that was the first time.”


Colton is a member of a senior class that has been a part of a lot of success at Callaway.


Over the past four seasons, the Cavaliers have won more than 80 games, they’ve captured three region championships, and they’ve won five playoff series.


O’Berry, a pitcher and outfielder, has been one of the Cavaliers’ best players the past three seasons, and he has had a terrific senior season at the plate, and on the mound.


During Tuesday’s 6-0 win over Rockmart, O’Berry threw his second career no-hitter.


Chase Freeman, an outfielder, has had a tremendous senior season.


Before Wednesday’s games, he was hitting .360 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.


“I’ve been a team player. I’ve been buying into the system. It’s all clicking,” Freeman said. “It’s all making sense. You put the team before yourself. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned this year, just being a team player.”


Colby Freeman, Chase’s twin brother, has been a standout catcher for the Cavaliers the past few seasons, and Malik Malcolm has given the team some depth in his first season playing baseball.


“They’ve won a lot of games, and it’s a great group of kids,” Hubbard said of the seniors. “I’m so happy for them. I really think they do a great job of representing the school.”


The Cavaliers didn’t have any trouble with Jackson.


In Game 1, the Cavaliers were only up 1-0 through three innings, but they exploded for 12 runs in the fourth inning, and the game ended after five innings because of the run rule.


The Cavaliers scored their first run in the second inning.


C.J. Gallatin had a double, and Perry Keith and Colby Freeman had singles in the inning.


In the fourth inning, 17 Cavaliers came to the plate, and they had six hits, and there were also five walks and a couple of hit batters.


Terry Godwin and Colby Freeman both came through with bases-loaded doubles to clear the bases, and Keith added an RBI single.


Austin Garrett, O’Berry and Chase Freeman also had hits in the inning.


On the mound, Godwin and Devin Brock combined for the shutout.


In Game 2, the Cavaliers scored in every inning.


Malcolm had a double in a seven-run first inning, and in his first at-bat of the night, Colton reached on a bunt single.


Mason Hendrix also had a hit in the inning, and there were three walks, as well as as an error that allowed a run to score.


In the second inning, Cody Mimbs led off with a hit, and he later scored on a Garrett base hit.


The Cavaliers tacked on two more runs in the third inning to take a 10-0 lead, with Brock driving in a run with a fielder’s choice.


The Cavaliers scored their final four runs in the fourth inning.


Colton drove the ball over the left fielder’s head for a two-run double, and O’Berry knocked in two more runs with a single.


Hunter Rollins got the start for the Cavaliers, and he pitched into the fourth inning before Colby Freeman got the final out of the inning with a strikeout.


It was the first time Colby Freeman pitched during his high-school career.


“It’s been a long time, probably about six or seven years ago (since I pitched),” Freeman said. “We had that planned for about a year now. I just made sure I got out there and did the job.”


In the fifth inning, Chase Freeman and Colton finished things off on the mound for Callaway.


The game ended when Garrett, playing in right field, made a nice diving catch.