SELMA – When the defending Class 2A state champion Wapahani baseball team took the field to open its 2015 season Saturday, it did so with a new-look lineup. Last year’s roster included seven seniors, six of whom played in the state championship game, so this edition was certain to look quite different.
It was also bound to look somewhat familiar.
One of the major holdovers from the state title team is junior pitcher Zack Thompson, who guided his team to a 10-0 victory over Central on Saturday at Wapahani in the season opener for both teams.
Thompson, who has verbally committed to Kentucky, pitched all six innings (the game ended early via run rule), allowing no runs on three hits. He struck out 12 batters and walked two.
“We played well as a team,” Thompson said. “Defense was good, we hit well. Personally, I need to work down in the zone a little bit more, stay in there longer. But, all in all, it worked out.”
He was also productive at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and getting intentionally walked in his fourth plate appearance. He had two RBIs.
“The expectations for a lot of people are probably a little bit unrealistic, to be quite honest,” Wapahani coach Brian Dudley said. “He’s still a high school junior that just kind of likes to play the game. And they expect him to strike everybody out and get a hit every time, which that isn’t going to happen. But honestly, he’s a special player and he’s going to have good days, there’s no doubt.”
Thompson allowed leadoff singles in both the first and second innings but stranded both (Central left a total of five runners on base). He faced five batters in the first inning, then never faced more than four in any subsequent inning.
Meanwhile, Wapahani’s offense made every inning count. The Class 2A No. 1 Raiders scored single runs in each of the first three innings, then scored two in the fourth after Central committed two errors on the same play. Hayden Castor had a two-RBI double in a four-run fifth inning that put Wapahani ahead 9-0. Kyzer York doubled with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, driving in the run needed to hit the 10-run rule on a play that could have generated multiple runs if needed.
“The good thing is, we scored every inning. I liked that,” Dudley said. “I thought we did some good things, baserunning-wise as well. But we’ve still got a lot of things to work on.”
Along with Zack Thompson, one of the Raiders’ other returning starters is catcher Grant Thompson, and he also had a big day, hitting two doubles. Other offensive production came from players who didn’t see significant action last year, including York, who had two earlier singles to go along with his double to close the game, and Jared Coats, who had an RBI double in the second inning.
Corey Bell had a double in the sixth inning for Central for the Bearcats’ only extra-base hit. Bell also drew a walk and reached on a fielder’s choice, the only Bearcat to reach base more than once.
Contact prep sports reporter Sam Wilson at (765) 213-5807. Follow him on Twitter @SamWilsonTSP.