By Shari Harris, Publisher
The Licking WIldcat Baseball Team competed in the Missouri Class 3 State Tournament Final Four on Wednesday and Thursday, May 31 and June 1. It was the first time since 1994 that the team made it to the championship game, and would prove to be the first time since 1989 that they brought home the championship.
Photos by Shari Harris
Licking Wildcat fans lined Main Street Wednesday morning, May 31, to send off their beloved Wildcat Baseball team to the Final Four in Ozark. Many made the trip west to watch the team take on the Barstow Knights in the semifinal game. And they were not disappointed. Head Coach Harv Antle led his Wildcats to a 4-1 victory over the Knights, setting them up for the Championship game on Thursday.
LHS Junior Kellar Davis returned to the Sky Bacon mound for the first time Thursday since a nearly tragic incident last summer, when he took a line drive to his temple during a summer league game, resulting in a cerebral hemorrhage. But the first year Wildcat, who only resumed pitching over the winter, had the support of his team and his town as he pitched a full game against a good South Callaway team.
The Wildcat faithful filled the third base side of the bleachers for the final, eager to see their team bring home the championship. As the seventh inning neared to a close with the Wildcats ahead 3-1, a ripple of anticipation in the stands grew in amplitude, until the final fly out catch by senior Cole Wallace allowed it to burst into celebration. Fans were on their feet as the players leapt into the air, hugged their teammates, and created a pile of Wildcats on the mound.
Many fans who were not able to attend the game assembled along Main Street for a welcome home. The Texas County Sheriff’s Department met the Licking bus and its caravan at Cabool and provided an escort to Licking, where the Licking Police Department, Fire Department, TCMH EMS, and the Sheriff’s Department escorted them down Main Street in an impromptu parade.
Photos by Shari Harris
The community wasn’t finished celebrating the win. Fans cheered the team as they again traveled Main Street as the grand marshals of Saturday’s rodeo parade. A victory lap at Saturday night’s rodeo brought more cheers for the coaches and players for their achievement.
See the recap of the final and semifinal games by Coach Harv Antle and more pictures of the Wildcats in Licking Wildcats claim Championship in Sports & Education.