BY NIC MILLER, Elizabethton Star
The Elizabethton Cyclone baseball team is having a spectacular season this year, and much of it has to do with the success of four seniors.
Matthew Dailey is a phenomenal pitcher for ‘Betsy who has had multiple double-digit strikeout games for the Cyclones.
Lawson Wagner, often called the sidearm sit-down specialist for the Cyclones, has had a terrific season both on the mound and at the plate.
Evan Perkins, the man behind the plate for Elizabethton can swing the bat with the best of them, having hit two home runs so far this season.
And last but not least, Corey Russell, the Cyclones’ shortstop who was sidelined with an injury earlier in the year, but continues to help the team in tremendous ways as an assistant coach for the team.
These four seniors draw a resemblance to the four horsemen in the Bible who lead the charge to bring forth the last judgment just as these ballplayers have led the charge for their team in helping the Cyclones to clinch first place in the Three Rivers Conference.
In doing so, they have also led the Cyclones to an undefeated record in conference play thus far.
Dailey was more team-focused when it came to what his favorite part of being a senior baseball player for Elizabethton meant.
“After working all four years, it’s nice to finally be able to teach the younger guys below me how to handle themselves on and off the field,” Dailey said. “It’s great knowing I have the power to affect how the team is in the coming years.”
From a pitcher’s perspective, Dailey felt that having the amount of success he has had with his strikeouts builds his team’s overall attitude.
“Strikeouts always build up a team’s confidence,” added Dailey. “The guys behind me are always backing me up and cheering me on.
“As a player backing up the guy pitching, I know I always enjoy seeing my pitcher win the game by himself.”
Wagner also sees his role as a senior to be one of being an example for his younger teammates.
“Seeing the younger guys look up to me,” Wagner stated about his final seasons as a Cyclone. “Watching my every move and learning the ways of being a Cyclone baseball player.
“Showing them not only how to have respect for the game, teammates, or the other team, but how to glorify God and show them how to throughout the game and life.”
The sidewinder was asked about his approach on the mound for a player that is known to be effective and powerful at the plate and answered with a simple response.
“My mindset normally stays the same throughout the whole game when I pitch. I trust in my catcher that he will mix the pitches up and keep the batters guessing. I do my best to throw the ball to his glove,” stated Wagner.
Perkins stuck with the common theme of teaching the underclassmen.
“My favorite part of being a senior baseball player at Elizabethton is that you can teach the underclassmen what it means to be a Cyclone baseball player and teach them how they can better their game,” said Perkins.
While being catcher is not the most glorious position, Perkins realizes that it is just as critical as being the one throwing the baseball from the mount.
“As the catcher, it is a significant position because the ball is coming to you every play and you have to be the quarterback of the defense.”
Russell, the fourth senior, was sidelined earlier this year with an injury sustained from football. That does not hold him back as he still manages to benefit the team as an assistant coach for the Cyclones.
Another senior who loves teaching the underclassmen, when he was asked about his favorite part of being a senior player for Betsy Russell said, “The best part is probably watching all the younger guys grow up and how they remind you of how you were when you were in their shoes. “When you are an underclassman you don’t realize the little things but the older you get, the more you notice and appreciate,” continued Russell. “Also, just being able to be with the guys you’ve played with growing up for one last season makes this year special.”
Russell was asked about how he still helps the team out in many different ways while being injured.
“Injuries are part of the game, and it was an unfortunate event that happened,” stated Russell. “But I still go to practices and games trying to help out in any way possible.
“Most of the time I’ll help with charts or just give the guys a heads up on what the pitcher has been doing throughout the game.”
These four seniors and the rest of the baseball team are only getting started.
As district and regional tournaments are coming up, the Cyclones hope to make a strong case for themselves.
If asked about an end goal for this season, there would be a 100% chance that all four of these seniors’ answers would be the same: to finish what they started last year and win the state tournament in their final year.
With seniors like these who are willing to take charge and lead their team, do not count this ‘Betsy ball club out.