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FDA caps lighting ceremony with win

The Fort Dale Eagles earned their first win of the season in convincing fashion over the Lowndes Academy Rebels.

The Fort Dale Eagles earned their first win of the season in convincing fashion over the Lowndes Academy Rebels.

Fort Dale Academy head baseball coach Marshall Watts has thrown his share of pitches in his career, but Thursday night’s inaugural pitch during FDA’s lighting ceremony will certainly go down as one of the most memorable.

“It was truly a humbling experience being asked to throw that out,” Watts said.

“We had so many volunteers and people who dedicated a lot of time and money into the lighting system, and I felt very honored that I could represent the school and those volunteers in throwing out that pitch.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me, honestly.”

It was even better, then, that the Fort Dale Academy Eagles varsity baseball team were able to cap the ceremony off with a big win, and a convincing one, over a constant thorn in the team’s side— the local rival Lowndes Academy Rebels.

Most of the Eagles’ success could be contributed to an explosive five-run first inning.

As it turns out, the five runs were all the Eagles would need.

“We had several quality at-bats by several different people, and that’s what we’re going to try to do this year,” Watts said.

“It’s not necessarily how many hits we have, but we’re going to have better quality at-bats.  We started keeping some stats that will be gauged within the game so the kids don’t always have to worry about getting a hit or hitting a double here.  I think it paid off last night.  They had a lot of fun last night, and they were anxious to see the number of quality at-bats they had, so it was a good first inning and a good night overall.”

A strong individual performance from Rebel catcher David Hussey limited the Eagles’ effectiveness, catching FDA unawares on bases occasionally, but the Eagles’ themselves were no slouch defensively.

Pitcher Austin Vickery delivered 9 strikeouts in 6 innings with only 2 walks.

“We were very pleased with the way he was getting ahead of hitters,” Watts said.

“We tried to take him out a little bit early, but he just kept wanting the ball, so we just kept giving it to him.  It was a good night for him.”

The win brings the Eagles to 1-3 overall.  And though Fort Dale has a few wins to go before breaking .500, Watts is confident that Thursday night’s performance is a sign of good things to come.

“It is early, but all of our kids hang out with those Lowndes guys, and so they know them and know that they’re a very good program,” Watts said.

“Coach Moore does an excellent job up there with them, and from what I understand in the past, we’ve struggled with Lowndes.  They’re a good program that got it going and they had a lot of seniors.  So it’s good to get going finally, get us a win and get the monkey off our backs.  Maybe we can roll off a couple in a row now.”

Watts and the Eagles will have an opportunity to break .500 with a pair of home games Saturday against Wilcox at 2 p.m. and Lakeside at 4 p.m.