Stand­out se­niors Car­den, Turner lead Co­bras

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS - ZACH PARKER

FOUN­TAIN LAKE — As three-year starters for Foun­tain Lake’s base­ball team, Mon­tana Car­den and Stephen Turner have ex­pe­ri­enced just about ev­ery­thing on the di­a­mond, but both have taken on a new chal­lenge this sea­son.

Be­ing the only two se­niors on a team that in­cludes 13 un­der­class­men, Car­den and Turner have added a lead­er­ship role to their list of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on the field.

“We kind of had to grow into a lit­tle bit more of a lead­er­ship role,” Car­den said. “I know our sopho­more year, we only had two or three se­niors on the team and at the time that was their spot. When you just have two or three se­niors on the team, those cer­tain few kind of have to step up.”

Car­den cred­ited se­niors from last year’s team for show­ing him the ropes and what it takes to guide the younger play­ers on the ros­ter.

“Hay­den Beck­with is a good guy to fol­low his role,” said Car­den. “Hay­den is a re­ally good kid and a good ath­lete, and he kind of had his stuff fig­ured out. I’d say Hay­den and Hunter Bryant were both good lead­ers. They did a good job last year.”

In ad­di­tion to their vo­cal lead­er­ship, Car­den and Turner have been set­ting the ex­am­ple with their per­for­mance on the field.

Both play­ers are at or near the top of ev­ery ma­jor of­fen­sive cat­e­gory on the team. Car­den sports a .447 av­er­age with 19 RBIs and six ex­tra-base hits, while Turner is bat­ting .421 with 18 RBIs and 15 runs scored.

With their two se­niors lead­ing the way, the Co­bras have av­er­aged over eight runs per game en route to an 11-4 record with five reg­u­lar sea­son games re­main­ing.

“I would say con­fi­dence has been the big­gest rea­son for our numbers,” Turner said. “All of our op­po­nents are the same age or younger. The ex­pe­ri­ence when you go through high school and get to se­nior year, it’s just like ev­ery­thing seems a lit­tle eas­ier for you.”

De­spite lead­ing the team in bat­ting av­er­age, hits and RBIs, Car­den’s pri­mary con­tri­bu­tion has been on the mound. Af­ter rack­ing up 101 strike­outs in 76 in­nings over his sopho­more and ju­nior sea­sons, Car­den has come into his own this year as the undis­puted ace of the pitch­ing staff.

The se­nior has a record of 6-2 in 10 ap­pear­ances thus far, strik­ing out 54 while al­low­ing just 15 earned runs in 37 1/3 in­nings pitched, but is still striv­ing to achieve even more.

“I’m still not nec­es­sar­ily where I think I should be,” he said. “I’ve had a few games that could have gone a lit­tle bit bet­ter. ERA could be a lit­tle bit lower, but I’m sat­is­fied with it. It’s been a pretty good start to a se­nior year.”

While Car­den an­chors the unit, the rest of the pitch­ing ro­ta­tion in­cludes sopho­mores Dae­ton Bas­sett and Pre­ston White, along with fresh­man Bryce Stauder.

With a trio of un­der­class­men gain­ing their first sig­nif­i­cant taste of var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence on the mound, their tran­si­tion has been eased by the pres­ence of Turner be­hind the plate.

As the start­ing catcher and a pitcher with eight ap­pear­ances of his own

on the mound, Turner has helped guide Foun­tain Lake’s staff to a team ERA of 3.73, in­clud­ing five games al­low­ing two runs or less.

“It can be stress­ful on the mound, es­pe­cially for the young guys that can get in their head,” said Turner. “I just like to loosen up the en­vi­ron­ment. As coach (Josh) Wes­son will tell you, we like to play around a lot. I yell a bunch of dumb stuff and do any­thing I can to keep those guys from over-think­ing it out there.”

Af­ter suf­fer­ing through a 1-6 record in con­fer­ence to fin­ish 10-10 over­all last year, the Co­bras have reeled off three sep­a­rate three­game win­ning streaks to sur­pass that to­tal with 11 wins and a record of 2-3 in the 3A/4A-8 blended con­fer­ence.

“We got some new guys, some new sticks and we’ve def­i­nitely been hit­ting the ball bet­ter,” Turner said.

“This year, we’ve got a lit­tle bit of chem­istry in the lineup I guess,” Car­den added. “We’re string­ing to­gether more hits. Last year, we had games where we’d have two or three hits, but this year, it’s been more of a snow­ball ef­fect. We start man­u­fac­tur­ing runs and we look pretty good.”

With only five reg­u­lar sea­son games re­main­ing be­fore the start of the 4A-7 district tour­na­ment at Joe T. Robin­son, both play­ers have one over­rid­ing goal mo­ti­vat­ing their fin­ish.

“I would say the end goal is re­gion­als,” said Turner. “We haven’t been there in a long time. We’ve been close the last few years, but al­ways got beat out, so I would say re­gional is our big goal.”

“If we can come up with two wins over Robin­son and Arkadel­phia (to close the reg­u­lar sea­son), we’ll be sit­ting pretty in district,” Car­den said. “That gives us a pretty le­git­i­mate run at re­gion­als, and that’s what we want.”

Foun­tain Lake is sched­uled to travel to Cen­ter­point (6-9, 1-6) to­day and host Poyen (11-8, 5-1) on Tues­day. The Co­bras are sched­uled to close the reg­u­lar sea­son on April 23 at Gur­don (3-10, 0-5).

The Sen­tinel-Record/Grace Brown

AT THE PLATE: Foun­tain Lake se­nior Stephen Turner awaits a pitch against Malvern on April 2. Turner has helped lead the Co­bras on of­fense and in the field to an 11-4 record with five reg­u­lar sea­son games re­main­ing.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Grace Brown

LEAD­ER­SHIP ROLE: Foun­tain Lake se­nior Mon­tana Car­den pre­pares to catch a pitch April 2 against Malvern. Car­den leads the Co­bras as the team’s top bat­ter, top pitcher and catcher for other pitch­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.