They are the defending state champions, but Fayetteville High School’s hopes of back-to-back titles were almost snapped in the second round of playoffs.
“Andy uncharacteristically got behind, gave up a three run home run in the top of the 7th inning,” Vance Arnold, head coach said. “Kind of knocked the breath out of us. But the kids came off the field when we got the final out of the inning, the kids came back and started talking, and said hey we’ve been here before, and they weren’t really concerned.”
Several of their games this year have been a one run come from behind win. Something coach Arnold says comes from his team rallying together, especially in their defeat of Little Rock Central with a walk-off homer from Kyle Pate.
“We practice, we talk about game situations, how to handle adversity and stuff, but to see young men step up among themselves and take it on their own chest is a big deal. So I think the kids are focused and understand what’s going to happen.”
And now they began to prepare for their final opponent, Bryant. Seven of the last eight state titles belong to either of these two schools. Bryant, on a 23 game win streak, may be their toughest battle yet.
“They are one of those teams that is very scrappy,” Cody Davenport, junior outfielder said. “They’ll just come across runs. We gotta be solid on defense because they’ll take advantage of our mistakes if we don’t.”
But the Bulldogs say they’ve got what it takes to come home winners yet again.
“We’re a real close knit group and being the defending champions we have a target on our back and we know that. as close as we can get it helps us going throughout the season,” Grant Koch, junior catcher said.
This will be a state game to remember.