Lanett baseball clinches first playoff berth in 17 years

Published 10:10 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2019

LANETT — With a 13-1 win over Loachapoka (0-6, 0-4) on Wednesday night, the Lanett baseball team (4-8, 2-0) clinched its first trip to the state playoffs since 2002.

“It’s a huge step for this program,” Lanett head baseball coach Hunter Ames said. “These guys work hard. They put the work in during the summer, winter time, there was a lot of offseason work. Once the season started, they stayed with it.”

Lanett senior Kaleb Davidson gave the Panthers a complete game, only allowing one run through his five innings on the hill. The lone run from Loachapoka came from a runner who was walked and eventually scored from a Lanett error. Davidson threw 10 strikeouts in the game. 

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He also led Lanett offensively by finishing with two hits.

“He played well,” Ames said. “

The Panthers’ runs came at a steady pace before erupting for over five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Junior Nate Johnson caught in the contest, picking off a third base runner in a pivotal moment of the game.

“That speaks volumes moving on into the future,” Ames said. “He’ll be a potential leader on the team. He just played smart baseball tonight. He’s still learning the catcher position, but I like him back there because he knows baseball. You need guys who know what they’re doing all over the field, but you definitely need a guy who knows what they’re doing behind the plate. He’s very aware out there.”

Ames’ father, Ron Ames, was on the first playoff team at Lanett in 1975.

“I hope daddy’s up in heaven smiling at this one,” Ames said.

With five games remaining this season, Lanett has already tied last season’s total win amount. Regardless of the milestone, Ames said the team’s work isn’t completed this year.

“Making the playoffs is great, but we want to win the area too,” Ames said. “We do not want to go home after the first round. We’ve played a lot of tough opponents leading up to this moment, and that’s paid off. There aren’t a lot of 1A teams around here, we’ve played them all. We stepped up and played 2, 3, 4, 5A teams and played stiff competition. Our record, if you don’t look at who we’ve played, looks kind of crazy, but we’ve played a lot of really hard teams. We’ve played Beulah, we’ve played Valley, Winterboro. We’ve played the big teams and we did that on purpose because I want to be good. I’m super proud of my guys for all the work they’ve put in throughout this season, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

The Panthers return home next week to face Wadley.