March 15, 2014 7:17:21 PM
JC Redden used his right arm in both games of a doubleheader sweep to help New Hope maintain its perfect record in 2014 season.
The senior right-hander allowed just six hits in a complete game effort against Covington (Tenn.) High School where the Trojans won 3-2. Redden lasted 106 pitches but his ability to fill the strike zone and let his veteran infield make plays allowed him to not worry about his pitch count.
"The key for me is to just find the strike zone and keep opponents off balance," Redden said. "It's the first time in a while that I had complete command of all three of my pitches today. When that happens, it's a effortless 100 pitches out there."
Redden and Mississippi State signee Taylor Stafford solidify a confident duo on the mound that New Hope coach Lee Boyd hopes to ride as they try to defend their Class 5A state championship.
"We feel like JC and Taylor can really go in there and throw strikes," Boyd said. "In our ballpark, they're going to give us a chance to win. When you have veteran guys out there, you just feel good every day you show up at the park."
In a back-and-forth 8-6 victory in the second game of the twin bill, Redden threw a perfect strike to catcher Jake Hollis to nab a Covington runner at home. The double play combination on a well hit ball to right field maintained New Hope's deficit to 2-1 and allowed Trojans reliever Will Golson to escape the fifth inning.
"I was actually really mad because in that inning I tried to throw out a runner at the plate but my cleat got caught in the grass," Redden said. "If I wasn't tackled by the turf monster there, I think, we would've gotten out of the inning quicker because our catcher really made great efforts on both of my throws."
Redden even provided a run-scoring single to left field to give New Hope (9-0) a 3-2 lead and knock out Covington starting pitcher John Spoon. The Trojans scored seven runs in the final two innings for the comeback victory.
"The chemistry on this team is so good and that's all that comeback was about," Redden said. "When you have solid chemistry on a club, then you just feel like you're never out of a game. We fight to the final out and we scored the final three runs there without getting a hit."
Stafford and Golsan, a Ole Miss signee, both pitched in the second game but Golsan struggled to find the strike zone and Covington made the senior pay for three straight walks with a bases-clearing triple to the left field corner.
Rooke Coleman, Golsan and Stafford all responded with singles to start the sixth inning and Payton Lane walked to bring a run to the plate. A fielding error, wild pitch and sacrifice fly gave New Hope an 8-6 victory. Lane got the victory on the mound by pitching the final three innings in relief of Golsan. Boyd said it was "the first critical situation they'd placed Lane in"
"Payton showed some real poise on the mound and get two strikeouts in the final inning," Boyd said. "If we can use him out of the bullpen, then we'll be tough to handle. I'm proud of how hard our kids fought in grinding out a pair of victories today."
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
3. MHSAA delays start of fall sports by two weeks HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS