The Cougars enjoyed a season chalked full of success. Even though their first round match up against Bowling Green left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth the past season is still considered one of the Cougars best in recent memories. With five seniors leading the team this seemed to be the year that LCHS would finally break through and grab that region title.
“I feel like the last 16 years we’ve been in the mix several times. I’ve never won one, I’ve gotten to the finals one time and that’s it back in 2000,” LCHS head coach Ethan Meguiar said.
This season all the stars seemed to have aligned as numerous coaches from around the region commented on how tough the Cougars were going to be. They commented after they played LCHS how their pitching depth was astounding, their offense was top notch, and they had one of the region’s top defense. When their second basemen and lead off hitter Matt Harper went down, teams thought they could ease past the Cougars.
But a wounded animal is incredibly dangerous to deal with.
The Cougars would band together and prove that they were every bit as good as advertised to their peers. They would rattle off 24 wins in the, have a perfect district record as well as taking home the district title for the second season in a row. When they went off to the Region 4 tournament they were confident that they could get to the region championship game.
But an unlucky draw would see them face Bowling Green and a WKU signee pitcher in the first round. The Cougars fought valiantly but would ultimately fall to the Purples in the first round.
“I wish I had South Warren’s secret, cause they were one of the only teams in the region that had any kind of success against Bowling Green,” coach Meguiar said.
Now the Cougars will have to deal with the loss of their five seniors in Ryan Harper, Dustin Nash, Brandon Sowell, Brice Moore, and Ryan Steenbergen.
“Harper and Nash have been starters have been starters for a long time,” coach Meguiar said. “Of course short stop he’s been a four year starter and shortstop which I think is one of the hardest positions to play, so we’re going o have to break someone into that and that’s a big loss. Nash has been really good for us on the mound these last two years. He’s won us 10 games this year and I think that’s the only person who has ever won 10 games at LCHS as far as I know. Steenbergen provided a big bat for us, didn’t hit as much as he did last year. Brice was like our fourth outfielder this year and Brandon was our everyday solid, good outfielder.”
The Cougars were led at the plate by Dustin Cartas and his .400 batting average and 32 RBI’s with 15 doubles. Gage Hales was a terror on the base paths, as he led the team with nine stolen bases with a .381 average and 35 runs. Senior Ryan Harper, and Lindsey Wilson signee, led the team with seven home runs and led the team with his 41 RBI’s. Senior Dustin Nash led the team as the ace pitcher with 10 wins while holding a 2.23 ERA. Thomas Miller collected seven wins, and coach Meguiar’s first ever no hitter with 99 strike outs and 0.94 WHIP. Freshman Caleb Bruner, who will help the Cougars the next three seasons, held an impressive 1.60 ERA while having a 5.3 K’s per seven innings rate.
Despite losing the talent they did due to graduation, the ceiling is still incredibly high for the Cougars. They have Miller to head up the pitching staff, Cartas to lead them from the plate, and they will have Matt Harper back in the field.
“I’d like to think we’d just maintain and do what we’re doing,” coach Meguiar said. “With as many people as we have returning, we shouldn’t take a huge step back.”
The coaching staff will continue with the same goals as they had coming into this season. They will look to make it a district three-peat and then make a deep run in the region tournament. Including district tournament play the Cougars have held a 19-5 district record and will look to continue their dominant run in the district.
“Same thing as this year, win the district and get to the regional tournament and try to have a little bit better than we have,” coach Meguiar said.
With the Purples, Spartans, Scotties, and their next door neighbors and rivals Russellville from around the region losing so much talent and the Cougars continue to get stronger and deeper, next season could finally see them at the top of the pack.