The Bluegrass Bats are a Kentucky high school boys competitive travel team. In their inaugural season, the team has traveled to two fall tournaments capping a series of 16 games with an outstanding showing in South Carolina.
After sound performance against very skilled teams at the Elite 150 10-vs-10 Tournament in the mid-Atlantic crux of lacrosse–Maryland (pictures featured in this article), the Bats flew to Clinton, South Carolina to face teams in the Fall Foothills Face-Off at Presbyterian College on November 22 and 23. A caravan of parents followed the Bats for an exciting weekend of lacrosse.
The tournament began with the Bats facing the Orlando Possums U-19 team. Getting off to a slow start the Bats battled to stay with the possums ultimately losing 9-4. Only winning 5 of 13 face-offs the Bats spent most of the time on defense. Goals by Connors, Herner, Holbrook, and Brenzil were not enough. Groundball leaders Fackler and Simpson led the defense. The second game matched the Bats with the Jacksonville Fightin’ Possums. The Bats battled the road kill varmints the entire game, with a late goal by the rodents to win 4-3. Batcager Benz fended off numerous point blank shots by the opossums, ending with 9 saves. Goals by Smith, Valenti, and R. Riordan completed the scoring.
The third game on Saturday matched the Bats against the Spartans from Spartanburg. The angry Bats took out their frustration on the Spartans firing at will with 9 players scoring on 18 shots. Winning 8 of the 13 face-offs helped the Bats to a 14-1 win. Scorers were Murphy (3), Brenzil (3), Guerra (2), Connors, Purdie, Ward, Bright, and Holbrook; R. Riordan capped the game. The final game on Saturday matched the Bats against the Excel Storm. Feeling confident from their last win, the Bats met the speedy Storm. A solid defensive game and patient play by the offense found Connors scoring 4 times, often in double coverage. The crafty Murphy found the cage twice. Batcager Benz had an excellent game with 7 saves.
Sunday brought the Bats back with a matchup against the Jacksonville Possums again. Hoping to redeem themselves, the Bats played a strong defensive game led by B. Schmitt, Simpson, Glick, Murphey, and S. Schmitt. Midfielder Ward was injured and unable to play, and the offensive crew struggled–unable to score. Landis, Wesley, Bright, and Purdie provided solid performances in a 2-0 loss. In the second game of the day, the Bats matched up with Orlando again. Another defensive performance found the Bats struggling against Orlando’s transition game. Only winning one face-off, the Bats found themselves in transition defense much of the time. Penalties allowed too many man-down opportunities for the Bats to overcome.
Going into the playoffs, the 3rd seeded Bats met the number 1 seed. Winning the first game would lead the Bats to the championship. Who was the number one seed? …Orlando Possums, a team they had met twice earlier. Coaches Purdie, Johnson, and Shroeder pulled out the infamous secret weapon. The BAT WING! The crowd rose to their feet and the Road Kill fans went quiet. After the nerve tingling “FEAR the BAT” chant the Bats were ready to do battle. The crowd was on their feet with Bat parents simulating the Bat wing and Possum parents chewing on whatever possums chew on. The Bats jumped to an early lead and provided a strong defensive game plan. Pressuring the ball forced the Possums into numerous errors. A very physical game forced the referees to tell the players to be less aggressive. Crosses were flying in the air, powerful stick checks scared some of the Possums, Possum parents were trying to distract Bat players with sideline banter, and a few injuries occurred.