Franklin County baseball put a cap on its winning 2022 campaign at an awards ceremony held in the Lew Wallace Auditorium last Wednesday.

Head coach Derek Stang called it an up and down season (14-12) but said his squad “got up” for the sectional in Rushville.

“We kind of played the way I think we hoped we'd look all year,” he added.

At the tourney, the Wildcats defeated the host Lions 11-3 to set up a semifinal matchup with Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference champ Batesville on Memorial Day.

“We responded,” said the coach, touting third baseman Austin Short's playing the game of his life. “It's cliché but it takes a whole team, all clicking on the biggest stage of the year.”

FC edged the Bulldogs 6-4 and waited for the evening championship with Connersville. The Cats kept up the intensity, but a scrappy Spartan bunch pulled off the 7-6 win.

“The way those two days went is something that any coach or parent can be proud of, and it was a fun, weekend – one of the most fun atmospheres I've been a part of,” said Stang.

The skipper added he hopes those returning are willing to put in the work, so the team is back in the same position 11 months from now.

A unanimous Most Valuable Player selection, voted on by his teammates, was Adam Daugherty. Daugherty pitched a pair of games at sectional – he also won the team Pitching Award – and eventually faced all seven conference opponents. The senior also belted three home runs in one day at Daleville.

Hitting Award went to catcher Xander Rodriguez, who had both the highest batting average overall and top on-base percentage while hitting cleanup and leadoff.

Brant Ertel earned Academic All-Conference. All-EIAC is based partly on a team's finish in the standings; FC earned three selections due to being in the league's upper tier. They were Ertel, Daugherty and Rodriguez (5th in MVP voting). 

Stang handed out two Wildcat Awards for overall spirit and character. Seniors JD Stokes and Kristian Prows earned these.

“He did a lot of stuff for us behind the scenes and got some big outs in (pitching) situations that weren't ideal,” the coach said of Stokes. “Anyone who knows him is not surprised by what he did for the dugout, the coaches and on the field.”

One of four co-captains chosen by his mates before the season, Prows showed his leadership as a versatile outfielder. Stang said many players wished to see him get the award.

Before closing, Stang thanked the parents for help throughout the season and with fundraisers, Missy Burton and Renee Ertel in particular. He also invited outgoing seniors to continue to support the program when possible.