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By BRAD CROWE – Herald Staff
The Region 7-4A All-Region Team was released last Friday, with four Greene County Wildcats being honored as members of the squad — Braden Brewer, Phillip Herring, Jace Lott and Collin Pipkins. With all four returning to the team for the spring of 2022, along with a host of returning teammates, head coach Nick Chatham and the Wildcats are excited to see what the future holds.
Two of the All-Region honorees, juniors-to-be Herring and Pipkins, just completed their first full seasons as members of the high school team. When asked for his thoughts on the development of his two young playmakers, Chatham said he was “surprised, yet not surprised.”
“I knew the potential of both of those guys coming in, especially Phillip,” Chatham recalled. “Collin was the biggest surprise, simply because the last level of baseball he had played for us (before COVID) was in middle school. He didn’t let COVID stop him from working hard, and it paid off.”
Pipkins, who spent a lot of time at the plate and on the pitching mound for the Wildcats, said being recognized as an All-Region honoree gives him more confidence about what he can bring to the table for his team going forward.
“It was a huge confidence booster, seeing that I made an impact on my district and that other coaches saw that we were outstanding players in our district,” Pipkins said.
Lott, who was a junior on last year’s team, said the challenges they faced in trying to reestablish their rhythm as a team after a year without baseball made the accomplishment a little bit more special.
“I think the biggest challenge was at the plate this year,” Lott said. “COVID hit a lot of us younger guys hard when they cut our season off because it (cost us) more at-bats that could have given us more experience going into last year’s season.”
“I definitely think hitting took the most work for us because we struggled badly at the plate, and you can’t replicate live at-bats that we missed.”
Even more important than the progress they made in their craft, Lott said, was simply the fact that they got to return to the field with their friends and play baseball.
“Getting back into the rhythm of things was awesome,” Lott said. “We were able to play baseball again, get after it together as a team and just have fun together.”
Not only will all four All-Region honorees be back in action next season, but they will be joined by four more returning starters, giving Chatham and his players a lot of confidence in what they can accomplish together going forward.
“We are super excited about the team coming back next year,” Chatham said. “This year was a huge learning curve for them, and I think it did just that. It helped them learn. They were a young team and played one of the toughest schedules in the state. They got some playoff experience and even got to see what it takes to win a playoff game. All of those opportunities are going to springboard them into next year.”