Rivalry between ’Cats and Cadets alive and well

Before Tuesday’s scheduled baseball showdown between Waterford High and host Fort Frye High, first-year Wildcats’ skipper Doug Huffman approached veteran FFHS head coach Sonny Bidwell near the Cadets dugout on the first base side of the diamond.

Huffman wanted to know where the visitor’s bullpen with a bump was on the third-base side of Cadet field.

Of course, while there is plenty of area to warm up, either inside or outside the fenced-in ballpark, there isn’t any visitor’s bullpen per se. On the home first base side, there is, and it includes a bump.

“I mean, you can look right here,” said Huffman after the Cats (17-6) edged the Cadets, 4-3, in a non-conference tilt. “We got flat ground here (third base side). Then, you’ve got to go up on a 26-inch mound (on the diamond).

“Is that a competitive advantage for the home team? Absolutely.”

It certainly appeared to be when the game got underway.

Waterford senior Devyn Farley had a shaky bottom half of the first inning on the hill, giving up hits to the first three Fort Frye batters, two of whom later scored.

Actually, it could’ve been worse for the right-handed starter and the Wildcats if the Cadets (15-8) had executed successfully a two-out, double steal of second and home. Give Cats’ second baseman Montana Brooker credit for a diving tag out of the FFHS baserunner, trying to get back to first safely.

“Did I still not get with Devyn Farley (before the game) and say, ‘Are you ready for pitch number 1?'” Huffman said. “He’d better be ready for pitch number 1 for wherever he’s at and whatever he’s got to do to get ready.

“Is that a competitive disadvantage? Absolutely. Is it right? Absolutely not.”

While Huffman is a rookie high school head baseball coach, he’s also a longtime student of the game and knows his diamond stuff well, just like Bidwell does.

Huffman after all starred at Marietta College back in the early 1990s under the tutelage of the late, legendary head coach Don Schaly.

Huffman was also a teammate of current Pioneer boss Brian Brewer.

Meanwhile, after Waterford came back and tied the score 2-2 in the top of the second, Farley settled down in the bottom half of the frame, and retired the Cadets in order.

The Wildcats then went on to win the game by a single run, and Farley would get credit for the mound victory.

At the beginning of the season, the green and white dropped a 13-0 decision to the Cadets on the same field during the Washington County Tournament. So, payback was sweet indeed.

Huffman was pleased with the rivalry win, but…..

“I wrote down a lot of stuff that we didn’t execute,” he said. “We’re going to work on it in practice.

“Yes, we are (playing good baseball), but there’s still some stuff there, a whole bunch of stuff that’s got to be fine-tuned.”

Huffman paused.

“I’m thinking about that one at-bat after a leadoff double in the top of the seventh when we don’t get him to third,” he continued. “(Braden) Bellville led off with a double and then our next hitter hit the line drive to center field (for an out). If we can get that ball to the right side of the infield, then we have a runner on third with one out. That’s an insurance run.”

Actually, when and wherever Waterford and Fort Frye play on the diamond, every insurance run is significant.

And, yes, even the matter of a visitor’s bullpen with no bump can be a topic of conversation between the two schools.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at (740)373-2121, x534, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com