Todd Laughlin’s Sanderson Spartans have been a major force in Cap-8 Conference baseball under the veteran coach, winning three of the last four conference championships.
Sanderson (6-5, 4-2) went 20-8 last season and won two state playoff games before being eliminated by Hoggard. And Laughlin said the three-game losing streak that put the Spartans under .500 earlier this month after an extra-inning loss to visiting Leesville Road said more about the conference than the Spartans.
Sanderson pitcher Kevin McSoley had 13 strikeouts and a shutout through seven innings, but the Spartans lost 4-0 in eight.
“We had a great pitchers’ duel,” Laughlin said. “That was (McSoley’s) first game like that this year. You never expect 13 strikeouts. I like where we are as a team right now. We’ve just got to string a few hits together and things will start heading in the right direction.”
Spartan fans won’t soon forget the 13-strikeout performance of the junior southpaw McSoley, who fired 105 pitches before being lifted with one out in the eighth.
“I was able to locate my off-speed pitches and my inside fastball,” McSoley said. “That really set me up for the outside pitch. I just hate that I ran into a pitch limit. I think I could have gone longer and my arm feels great. But I think the rule about four days’ rest after a game like that is a good idea.”
Of the Spartans’ five losses, two have been by one run – to last year’s 4A runner-up Green Hope and to one-loss Cardinal Gibbons – and the Leesville one was in extra innings.
“It was great the way Kevin pitched. He was really hitting his spots,” said first baseman Robbie Houston. “It was a great game but a tough one to lose. We just need to learn our lessons from it and then forget about it.”