Pike Lib hosts Alumni Weekend

Published 9:39 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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Class 2A’s No. 9-ranked Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (13-9) welcomed home a number of alumni this weekend during their matchup with Class 6A’s No. 6-ranked Pike Road Patriots, and among those returners was the legendary Butch Austin.

The man Pike Lib’s field is named after was recognized before the game and even threw out the opening pitch.

“It was a really special day,” PLAS coach Will Austin said. “To have all the alumni back and to have Coach Butch out there throwing the first pitch – and recognizing him – was real special and also having Coach (Allen) Ponder back was really special. He did so much for this program, as well.”

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Butch Austin is the grandfather of Will Austin and came to PLAS in the 1990s, turning the program into an AISA powerhouse.
“I learned a lot from him, with the way he teaches the game and the way he treats people and how he does things the right way,” Will Austin said of his grandfather. “You couldn’t ask for a better grandfather or coach, so it was a really special day.”

Butch Austin throws the first pitch against Pike Road. (Submitted Photo)

The game, however, didn’t go how Pike Lib wanted, falling by a score of 12-2 to Pike Road. Pike Road is coming off back-to-back area championships in Class 5A and is in its first season in Class 6A.

Pike Road jumped ahead 3-0 in the top of the first inning and never looked back, scoring at least one run in all but one inning.

At the plate, Levi DeBoer led Pike Lib as he was 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, an RBI and two runs. Payne Jefcoat also went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while KC Bradford earned PLAS’ only other hit.

Kade Brookins struck out three batters, while giving up three hits and four earned runs in two innings pitched, while Bradford struck out four batters and gave up four hits and one earned run in two innings. Jefcoat also struck out four batters and gave up two hits and two earned runs in two innings pitched. Wilson Cotton pitched the other inning and fanned a batter along with giving up one hit and one earned run.

Despite the weekend loss, PLAS has won 12 of its last 15 games with the only three losses during that stretch coming at the hands of Class 7A’s Enterprise, 6A’s No. 6-ranked Pike Road and 3A’s No. 5-ranked Houston Academy.

“The schedule has definitely helped us this season,” Will Austin said. “It’s made us tougher and challenged us in a lot of ways and it continues to challenge us and I think it will pay dividends for us when playoff time comes.”

That difficult schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as the Lincoln Trojans from Tallahassee, Fla., head to Troy on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. matchup. PLAS then faces off with the reigning Class 2A State Champion GW Long Rebels, who have been ranked No. 1 in 2A all season, on Saturday at 2 p.m.