Hough baseball team looks to finish strong after rare adversity during Spring Break

Brock Donnelly serves a pitch to left field in Hough’s win over South Meck April 11. /Doug Coats

CHARLOTTE – The Hough baseball team didn’t get the lights-out performances it has become accustomed to having this season during its Spring Break tournament, but the Huskies can now look to finish off the regular season on a high note.

The Huskies (17-1) suffered its first loss of the season April 9, an 8-6 loss to the Carolina Royals alternative program. It came the day after narrowly escaping Myers Park in a game that featured 24 runs. But Hough was able to finish off the multi-site Jack Sink Invitational with a win over South Meck April 11 to cap off the extended-weekend stretch.

Head coach Jimmy Cochran said although the scores and performances weren’t exactly what he was looking for, he was proud of the way his Huskies competed against strong programs from the other side of the county. They entered having won five straight by 10 or more runs.

“Friday night I thought we played really well, kinda let them back into it at the end,” Cochran said. “I was proud of the way we competed throughout those three games. I don’t know if we played our best baseball, but we competed and figured out a way to win.”

Against South Meck on the Sabres’ home field, Hough took advantage of several walks and timely hits to score six runs in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie then four in the fifth. Starting pitcher James Nesta was able to maneuver out of a few jams to keep the comfortable lead.

It was a good bounce-back from his performance against the Royals on Saturday when the team walked 15 batters. The weather rebounded too, after the first two games were far from spring-like, and seasonal weather returned for the finale.

Sophomore righty James Nesta picked up the win against South Meck.

“He had a rough outing on Saturday, getting back into the zone a little bit,” Cochran said. “He threw his breaking ball better today. His stuff is going to play. It’s a matter of making sure he’s commanding the fastball and working off of that. We did a better job of that today than we did at the last couple of outings.”

The loss to the Royals broke Hough’s 16-game win streak since the season started. After playing the conference-only slate a year ago and for only a few weeks in 2020, the Huskies have competed against Mecklenburg County’s top programs, taking down Ardrey Kell, Myers Park, plus Lake Norman High to start the season.

On whether his team can take anything from the loss, Cochrane said there’s “nothing.”

But after Spring Break, the Huskies only have three games remaining in the regular season. After a final non-conference bout with Independence, Hough will host Hopewell for two games April 26 and 29. The two teams are tied atop the Queen City 3A/4A standings, both undefeated in league play. Cochran is excited to have the conference championship come down to the very end after at least tying for a share of the title every year since 2014.

“It hasn’t been that way for us for a long time,” he said. “Hopewell historically, they’ve improved as the years gone on, and we’re going to get their best shot. It’s part of setting yourself up for the playoffs. They’re going to give us a good gauge for us to see where we are going into the playoffs.”

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