Those wins are getting harder and harder to come by as the Wildcats get deeper into conference play, as evidenced by their 5-2 loss to Hiram Monday at Woodland High to bring their losing streak to four games.
“Last year, we lost six arms. One guy comes back that threw 25 innings, so we’re very inexperienced on the mound and the same for a bunch of the fielders,” Woodland head coach Corey Gochee said. “We did lose eight seniors, some of them defensive guys, but we’re 13 games in. They’re not young anymore. Right now, we don’t know how to win and the results are showing. We don’t have guys that are stepping up and stopping the bleeding.
“I think it’s contagious.”
Adding to the team’s frustration was Hiram’s first inning, which saw the Hornets score a run on a bases-loaded walk with two outs.
Woodland was unable to answer back in the ensuing innings as the Wildcats struck out in three of their first five at bats and did not record a hit until the fourth inning.
Before Woodland could get on the board, Hiram tacked on three more runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead.
The Hornets hit three doubles in the span of four at bats to drive in the runs.
However, freshman starting pitcher Cauy Williams battled back from the early runs and allowed just one unearned run in his final three innings of work to give his team an opportunity to climb back into the game.
“I honestly believe we have three kids playing hard every pitch and Cauy is one of them. When he’s on the mound, he’s out there trying to throw strikes,” Gochee said of Williams. “The first inning, he ran the pitch count out a little bit, but they were ground balls and they were weak. They just happened to find holes. That’s what I need out of pitchers. I need them to throw strikes and get guys out early in the count. I need them to pitch to contact and that’s what he did.”
Woodland would pick up the freshman pitcher in the fourth and get back into the game with a two-run inning.
Jarrett Kilgo got the Wildcats started with a base hit to lead off. He then stole second base and scored when Hunter Siniard singled up the middle.
Siniard then stole second base, putting a man in scoring position for Hayden Siniard, who doubled in his brother to make the score 4-2.
Hayden Siniard now leads the team with four doubles and is tied for the team lead with five RBIs on the season.
Siniard’s efforts brought Woodland within two runs, but the Wildcats would only get one base runner for the remainder of the game. “Unfortunately, at the plate, there’s only two or three kids really getting after it with a mental approach,” Gochee said. “It looks like there are guys that are going through the motions.”
Hiram added to their lead in the sixth inning when a routine pop-up was dropped in the infield with two outs. Hiram scored a run on the play to take a 5-2 lead.
That would be the final as the Hornets outhit the Wildcats 11-4 in the game and dropped Woodland to 5-8 on the season, 2-6 in Region 5-AAAAA.
Gochee is concerned the losing streak has affected his team’s enthusiasm and its play.
“Guys have to beg guys to get out of the dugout. I had one kid walk on the field right there towards the middle of the inning. Little things like that are going to eat at us,” he said. “We’ll go young. That’s how we fix that here. If guys aren’t going to compete, I’ll watch somebody a whole lot younger than you not compete.”
Woodland will have another tough test Wednesday when the team travels to play undefeated Allatoona.