, Corbin, KY

April 24, 2013

Cats never stopped believing

Editorial By Les Dixon, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — While some baseball teams in the Tri-County were happy coming away with district wins Tuesday, Marc Estep’s Lynn Camp Wildcats were celebrating the program’s first win since April 23, 2010.

That’s a long time folks.

Just one day short of three years to be exact.

But the losing never kept the Lynn Camp players and coaches from trying to get a ‘W’.

They came out to wear the black and orange uniforms in 2011, even though they went 0-12 during the season while only scoring 12 runs

Yep, Lynn Camp dropped 48 games in a row during the stretch and was outscored 901-73 during the process, but even after all of those defeats, including some as bad as 39-11 and 38-1, the kids continued to come out and play.

Many kids these days would have turned their caps and uniforms in for good after going 0-18 like the Wildcats did last season while being outscored 356-14, but Wildcat players didn’t.

Most hung through the bad times, hoping things were going to get better.

And they would.

Insert first-year coach Marc Estep, who took over a team whose roster almost has more seventh and eighth graders (seven to be exact) than upperclassmen (eight).

When he first met with the players, Estep said senior Aaron Elliott told him something that stuck with him throughout the season.

“He told me he hadn’t won a game during his baseball career here and that his main goal was to get a win,” Estep said of Elliott.

Estep knew he had his hands full coming into the season, but with that said, he’s been patient with his players and that eventually led Lynn Camp to put an end to the losing skid.

“To be honest, I started with one simple goal and that was to score a run in our first game and after that, I wanted us to be able to play past three innings and we did that, too,” he said. “The kids understood what we had been facing and they knew how bad it was. Once we started meeting these goals, it gave them confidence.”

Yes, Estep and company suffered some tough losses early, but he admitted to seeing improvement, both at the plate and on the field. The wins weren’t showing up, but Estep knew his team was close.

They hit some big bumps along the way, including a 28-run loss to Bell County and a 22-4 50th District defeat to Pineville, but Estep and his Wildcat players kept plugging along.

“We started taking little steps and we knew we were getting closer to success,” he said. “I had a parent come up to me and tell me things were 1,000 percent improved and that was great. These kids had been beaten so many times, I think they had just forgotten how to win.”

Which leads us to Monday’s game against Oneida Baptist. The Mountaineers beat Lynn Camp, 13-1 and 10-0, last season.

But with that said, Estep had reason to believe his team would win and snap the 48-game losing skid in the process.

Guess what, he was right.

The team that hadn’t won in almost three years scored as many runs against Oneida Baptist as it did the entire 2012 season.

Yep, the Wildcats won 15-5, and to cap things off, Elliott turned out to drive in the game-winning run.

“I almost cried,” Estep said of Elliott’s game-winning hit. “It was pretty ironic that he’s the one that came up with the hit. He came up and gave me a big hug. It was great.

“This senior group has worked hard and I’m just glad to see them get a win,” he added. “It’s been a tough road for a lot of these kids in this program, but hopefully we can maybe build something positive out of this.”