PLANT CITY — Before the season, Durant coach Butch Valdes went to senior Tyler Long with the news that the team would be using sophomore Jake Sullivan as the primary catcher and that the senior would serve as the Cougars’ designated hitter.
Rather than harping on the disappointment, Long has starred in his primary role and is off to a hot start at the plate, batting .642, with hits in five of the team’s six games and a pair of walks in the sixth. Tuesday, that continued as Long got things started for the Cougars (5-1) with a second-inning single over second base to drive in the first run in a 3-0 win against Class 7A-District 7 opponent Plant City (5-4).
“We have a heck of sophomore catcher, and it’s better for the team for him to catch,” Long said. “Coach told me before the season, ‘you have one job and that’s to hit,’ so I worked my butt off, on and off the field, trying to come through for my team.”
The Cougars added two runs in the fourth on a wild pitch and an RBI single from Jonah Scolaro in support of a solid pitching combination from starter Jacob Scolaro (3-0) and four innings of relief from Ryan Barfield, who earned the save while allowing one hit.
Sullivan had a pair of singles in the game to bump his average to .411 on the season.
GAITHER GETS 500TH WIN: Gaither got a complete game from Blake Hodgens (1-2) as the Cowboys topped previously undefeated Wiregrass Ranch, 3-1, in a district game Tuesday night for the program’s 500th victory.
Hodgens, who had taken two one-run losses this season, worked seven innings, striking out eight for Gaither (4-3).