Florien shuts out Simsboro in Class B playoff opener

By T. Scott Boatright


Pitches from Florien’s James Remedies were as elusive as a Blackcat Tuesday night in a Class B playoff opener at 14th-seeded Simsboro.

And Remedies’ performance was fitting because Blackcats is the mascot for Florien, which allowed only one hit in a 8-0 win over the Tigers at the SHS baseball field.

“We didn’t put the ball into play — their pitcher was pretty good,” said Simsboro coach Scott Hiers. “He had a good breaking ball and he threw strikes. He didn’t walk batters. He hit one, but his control was very good. We just didn’t put the ball into play enough.”

Remedies totaled 13 strikeouts, allowing Simsboro runners on base only three times — a single by Hunter Stevens and a walk by Xavier Mosley along with Ashton Malone being hit by a pitch.

“We just ran into a buzz-saw,” Hiers said of Remedies’ performance. “If we could have gotten him out of the game, we might have had a chance.”

Offensively, the Blackcats slowly but surely chopped away with their bats to earn the win.

Florien scored two runs in the opening stanza, one in the second inning, another in the third, one in the fifth and three in the sixth, earning those runs off of nine hits.

Cort Knippers led the Blackcats with a 2-for-2 performance with three runs batted in. Remedies provided plenty of offense to help with his pitching prowess, picking up two hits in three at-bats while also reaching base on a fielding error and leading the Blackcats with three runs scored.

Hayden Rabo started on the mound for Simsboro, giving up five runs through 5 1/3 innings and recording three strikeouts.

Tigers catcher Daniel Martinez moved to the mound to close out the game for Simsboro.

The Tigers will be losing six seniors off of this year’s team, and Hiers said he appreciates their efforts in making this the best season for Simsboro baseball in a number of years.

“We went from three wins to 14 wins this season,” Hiers said. “We finished at 14-14, so we didn’t have a losing season. I told them they’ve helped the program and we are headed in the right direction. To host a playoff game — that was a pretty big deal. I’m not sure of the last time Simsboro hosted a playoff game.”

Hiers admitted his team was probably a little nervous, especially to start the contest.

“They were a little nervous,” Hiers said of his team. “But now they’ve been here. They know what it’s like, and that’s a good thing for when they get in that position again. It’s bittersweet because you don’t want to lose 8-0 in the playoffs, but just for us to be in the playoffs, and to host a playoff game is a pretty big deal for our community.”

Hiers said one thing he’s proud of is he has felt team culture shifting in a positive direction.

‘It’s hard to change cultures — change the mental outlook for the kids, because they’re used to losing,” Hiers said. “So we’ve got to get over that. But we ended up .500 on the year, and they ain’t losing, so it’s pretty good. It’s progress.”

Now one of Hiers biggest challenges is to continue that culture shift at a school where basketball is king with the Tigers winning Class B state hoops championships four out of the last five years.

“These kinds don’t play baseball year round — they play basketball,” Hiers said. “So we’re going to try and get them out and play a little summer ball. They’re good athletes. They just have to learn the game of baseball.”

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