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Cobra baseball off to solid start behind pitching

by Bryan Rice | March 29, 2023 at 4:02 a.m.
Cutter Morning Star’s Matt Tims (2) slides into third base as Fountain Lake’s Daeton Bassett (34) attempts to tag him out during a baseball game at Cutter Morning Star on March 13, 2018. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

FOUNTAIN LAKE -- Fountain Lake (5-3, 0-0 4A-4) has been off to a solid start in the early part of its season.

Catching up with Cobra head coach Justin McArthur Tuesday, he highlighted this year's squad before they loaded on a bus bound for Waldron (3-8, 0-0 4A-4) to open up conference play.

McArthur is in his third season as the Cobras' head coach.

"We need to make sure we get on the bus the right way," McArthur said. "We need to take the long road trip the right way and get off ready to play. We should be all right."

On Monday, Fountain Lake met up with the Cutter Morning Star Eagles in a neutral site game at Majestic Park on Babe Ruth field. The game was run-ruled after the fourth and the Cobras won, 12-0.

"It was one of those things where we played well," McArthur said. "We expected to do it. They called it after four, which is unusual, but they did not take their at bat in the fifth inning."

The bats have been alive for the Cobras in the early goings of the season.

"It all starts with senior Wesley Campbell he is batting in the three hole for us," McArthur said. "He hit one off of the wall about as far as you can hit it in Majestic Monday without it going out. He hit it 375 feet in left-center."

Campbell swings the stick for a .320 batting average, one home run and 10 RBIs.

"Our table setters for us are senior Abe Rose," McArthur said. "Rose is our leadoff guy. He has been swinging it really well. Senior Evan East in the two hole and sophomore Kolt Carden is batting cleanup. Sophomore Brodie McMillian is batting fifth."

Rose is batting .500 on the season with seven RBI and stolen 10 bases for the Cobras.

"They have been the ones that are keeping us rolling right now," McArthur said, "as far as scoring runs and being productive."

The Cobras No. 1 pitcher is Campbell who signed with National Park College on Oct. 31, 2022.

"Campbell is looking really well," McArthur said. "He has thrown very well this year and has been pretty dominant. A lot of people cannot catch up with the fastball, it is mid-80s."

Campbell this season has a 1.50 ERA and has compiled 61 strikeouts.

Carden and freshman Cayden Elmore share pitching duties with Campbell.

"I have another kid that has really stepped up Carden," McArthur said. "He has not really had a bad performance yet and he looks better every time he goes out there. We have a little ninth-grader Elmore. He had a big save for us against Glen Rose. Those guys are the top three for us right now. We feel really confident in those three."

McArthur's pitcher, Carden, has 40 strikeouts through 23 innings pitched.

Shortstop and second base are the athletic positions in the middle infield, fielding most of the ground balls that are hit.

"We have East at second base and he is good; he is really solid," McArthur said. "He can make all the routine plays and make a few that he is not supposed to make. He is going to get the ball where it needs to be and be where he needs to be as far as position."

East has a football offer to play at Lyon College and he might play basketball for NPC, McArthur said.

"He has got some options," McArthur said.

"He is one of the few we have that can play all three sports and he has been a starter in all three sports," he said.

"Shortstop we have been kind of doing it by committee. Campbell and Carden has played there some. A little freshman Ethan Grissom has played there some and junior Brayden Buss plays there, but we are still trying to figure out who is going to be up the middle down the stretch."

In all levels of baseball, first base is key; the majority of all balls put in play will go to a first baseman's glove.

"If Campbell is out there on the mount it will likely be Kolt," McArthur said. "He is pretty much our everyday first baseman. He started as a ninth-grader and is very good over there. He can pick the ball very well and he has got a good glove. He has a very strong arm and has played a lot of baseball."

"People do not understand how important first base is in high school," McArthur said. "It is not a position you can just throw somebody over there. You need somebody to make those plus plays, pick the balls out of the dirt and be able to do other things."

Snagging balls from McArthur's pitching staff is Rose at catcher.

"We have Abe Rose back there," McArthur said. "He is our guy. He is not really a catcher by trade, he is more of a center fielder or middle infielder, but he is doing what is best for the team. He is really good back there as far as receiving and he calls his own game back there. He is good at blocking the baseball, he is athletic and fast. If one does get away from him he can get back to the backstop and pick it up really quickly."

Holding down third base and finalizing the infield is McMillian.

"He has come a long ways since last year as a ninth-grader," McArthur said. "He is a kid that committed to working and getting better. He has really made strides. He has swung it well so far this year and he has made most of the routine plays. We are excited about having him for the next two years."

The outfielders for the Cobras are center fielder senior Garrett White, sophomore Parker Guess and senior Andrew Bledsoe.

"White has played a lot of baseball and he has started three years for us," McArthur said. "Guess has won the job in right; he is really fast and he has been swinging a hot bat. In left we have Bledsoe. He is somebody who has also played a lot of ball."

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