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Productive surprise

At the beginning of the season, there were several question marks surrounding the Pike Liberal Arts baseball team.

One of the questions being asked was who would take over behind the plate.

Head coach Butch Austin and the Patriots would find the answer pretty quickly.

It was a year ago when Blake Floyd, who was a freshman at the time, was called up to the varsity squad after the JV season had come to an end.

During that time, Floyd caught most of the games during the Patriots’ postseason run.

Even with that time underneath his belt, the position was still up for grabs coming into this season – and Floyd knew it.

“We have Nick (McLaughlin), who is a good catcher, so I knew I had to bust my butt to get back there,” Floyd said.

When the day came that Austin told the sophomore he would be the Patriots’ opening day catcher, Floyd said he was surprise.

“I was shocked and proud, to tell you the truth.

“I knew I had worked hard and did all that I could to earn the position,” the catcher said. “It’s not an easy job. You have to take control of the game and help the pitchers out whenever they may need it.”

Since that day, Floyd has done nothing but prove he deserved the position right from the start.

Along with the pressures of handling a senior heavy pitching staff on the No. 1 team in AISA from behind the plate, the catcher has also produced at the plate.

In his first full year facing varsity pitching, the sophomore had the highest batting average on the team all season long, finishing the regular season around the .520 mark.

Floyd also finished in the top five in home runs, with five, RBIs with 36, and on base percentage and slugging percentage.

“Blake has done well for us this season,” Austin said during the team’s practice Tuesday night.

“He added that extra hitter we were looking for. We have nine good hitters in-a-row in our line up.

“Right now, he is a good player, but before he leaves, he is going to be a great ball player,” the coach added.

Austin isn’t the only member of the Patriots that has noticed Floyd’s contribution to the team.

Senior pitchers Justin McLaughlin and Will Starling both said Floyd has brought a lot to the team this season.

“For a sophomore he is good,” Starling said. “We trust him (behind the plate).”

“He knows what we like to throw and where we like to throw it,” McLaughlin said. “And that’s something that makes a big difference.”

With the season coming to an end, and the playoffs beginning on Friday, Floyd said he has learned a lot along the way.

“(This year) has been exciting. There have been a couple of where things didn’t go as I would have hoped, but you can’t hang your head – you have to look past bad at bats or plays and look to the next one,” Floyd said.