By John R. Schirmer
For the third time in three years, the Nashville Scrappers will play for the state Class 4A championship at Baum-Walker Stadium at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
For the third time in three years, the Scrappers will face Shiloh Christian in the title game. Nashville won the two previous meetings and will be going for the three-peat.
The Scrappers and Saints will meet Friday afternoon at 12:30 at Baum, which some may refer to as “Wilson Park North.”
Nashville advanced to the championship game by defeating Valley View 10-8 in the semifinals Monday afternoon at Batesville Southside.
“Man, it’s awesome,” Coach Kyle Slayton said Tuesday morning during a break from mowing the field at Wilson Park. “These are the things you dream about. The kids made it happen.”
Monday’s victory over the Blazers was “a total team effort. We had gutsy pitching by Tristen Jamison, especially after the first inning. He got us to the sixth. Ty [Gordon] only had to get four outs. I’m proud of the way our kids responded every time Valley View tried to get back in. We did something to add a run when we really needed one. [Casen] Drummond had a big hit. Jake [Moorer] hit a big home run to spread the margin back out. Ty had some big hits and two home runs. Tristen hit a home run. This was a great performance by our kids.”
With the state finals coming up, “Our young kids will be on a big state. Shiloh is young too. It will be an eye opener,” Slayton said.
“Jamison will have three days to rest. [Jaydon] Hostetler will be full go. That will be good.”
At bat, “Gordon and Jamison will have to be steady in the middle of the order,” Slayton said.
He looks for other players to make a mark as well. “We’ve seen that in gams like this, somebody always steps up,” Slayton said.
The Scrappers are making their third straight title game appearance, and Shiloh is in the finals for the fourth straight year.
Going back to Baum is “a neat thing for the players. They’ve gone three years in a row. You have two really good programs meeting Friday. It’s an amazing three-year run,” Slayton said.
The Scrappers are 23-1 in playoff games during the past three years, Slayton said. The only loss was last year against Ashdown at regionals.
Nashville is 88-15 over three seasons. For the seniors, the record is even more impressive. They’ve won 109 games going back to the ninth grade, Slayton said, “with a chance to make it 110. That’s impressive.”
Nashville has two district championships and two regional championships in three years, and the Scrappers have a chance at a third state title.
The team will leave for Fayetteville Thursday morning at 10 o’clock. Players will stop a little after 12 noon at the roadside park just before Booneville for hamburgers grilled by Lance Pope, they get back on the road.
The Scrappers will practice at Fayetteville High School Thursday afternoon. They’ll stay at the Holiday Inn in Springdale, where they stayed last year, and have steak and baked potatoes Thursday night.
They’ll have breakfast at the hotel Friday morning, then head for Baum.
The Scrappers are going for win 35 on the season. “For the most part, they’ve played really good for 34 games. For the most part, they’re as sonsistent a bunch as we’ve had. That’s their legacy.”
Scrapper fans are likely to flock to Baum for the game. The Nashville crowd at Batesville filled the visitor stands and spilled out into any available space. Nashville Junior High and High School sent three bus-loads of students for the game.
With one game left in the season, “We’re excited,” Slayton said.
“It’s been a lot of fun the last three years. Friday will be a good atmosphere. I think a lot of the old state champions will show up.”