Pitching, freshmen fuel HVA

Thanks in large part to strong starting pitching and clutch performances from a handful of freshmen, Hardin Valley Academy baseball earned second place in District 4-AAA.

“With our district being one of the best out there, and us being the No. 2 (tourney) seed, I think it’s an awesome season,” said HVA head coach Joe Michalski, whose team finished 8-4 in district, 14-9 overall.

“Just pleasantly surprised at how well our freshmen played — probably more freshmen on varsity than we’ve ever had.

“A lot of those kids were forced into roles where they were playing on a regular basis,” he added. “And they handled themselves really well. Really big contributions, especially in district games.”

For example, freshman Jaylen Jones “started every game at second base. In some of these big district games he showed up and seemed to hit a double at the right time on about four different occasions at big moments,” Michalski said. “ ... Played nice defense.”

Freshman shortstop Archer Wong-Shasteen “really, really has a great glove,” the coach said.

During the final two weeks of the season, “We started to find our groove in terms of our starting pitching,” Michalski said. “The top three guys who stepped up were Bryce Jenkins, Anders Cook and Nolan Parks.” Jenkins and Cook “had fantastic outings the last two weeks,” Parks, normally in relief, “got a big win” as a starter.