Tates Creek's baseball team has enjoyed a fun ride most of this spring.
The Commodores (21-9) have been in the state's top 10 all year. Coach Dom Fucci got his 400th career victory a few weeks ago. Ace Trevor Gott, a Kentucky signee, has allowed one earned run all season.
The Commodores' offense has picked up (.309 batting average), their pitching has been strong (2.50 earned run average), and their defense has made the routine plays.
So how has Tates Creek been rewarded for nine weeks of savvy, solid baseball?
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It drew defending state champion and top-rated Lexington Catholic in the opening game of the 43rd District tournament on Monday.
"You just hope they're peaking at the right time, and that they'll be ready to play," Fucci said of his No. 8 Commodores.
They've prepared with a tough regular-season schedule, and they got a lift last weekend by beating No. 3 Eastern 4-1 on its home field.
Gott, a senior right-hander, threw a four-hitter, had 13 strikeouts and gave up his first earned run of the season.
"Probably the best game I've thrown all year," said Gott (4-1 with 63 strikeouts and 13 walks in 41 innings).
Junior center fielder Ryan Fucci called the win over Eastern "a momentum-booster.
"Trevor pitched great, and we had one of our best hitting games (13 hits) of the season. We hope it all carries over to the district."
Dom Fucci said pitching has been the Commodores' strong suit all season.
Strong outings from junior Devin Jackson (5-2, 0.43 ERA) have complemented Gott. Because Ryan Fucci and Phillip Donovan had arm problems, freshmen Aaron Mitchell and Nick Richmond got a chance to shine. They've worked 41 innings between them.
"Now that they've got that experience, we won't hesitate to put them in there," Dom Fucci said, although Donovan and his son Ryan are expected to see more mound time in the playoffs.
Tates Creek's offense, a little sluggish in early April, has started to perk up lately.
Donovan (.393, 19 runs), Fucci (.381, 27 runs, 21 RBI)Dylan Justice (.341), Reid Van Bussum (.330), Dorian Hairston (.328), Andrew Bryant (.326) and Gott (.320) are swinging the hot bats.
Defensively, Fucci covers a lot of ground in center. Bryant and Zyler Cosby are a reliable short-second combo.
Monday's showdown with Catholic will be a rematch from last year's district semifinals. The Knights won 5-3.
"It'll be a challenge," Donovan said. "They beat us last year, but all of our guys expect a different result this time. We're excited to play them again."
Gott, who figures to get the start against Lexington Catholic, said he likes facing the defending champs right out of the box.
"I think it's good," he said. "We have to beat them some time, so we might as well get it out of the way."