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Owls take on young Cuba club

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Senior Aaron Skinner led the Owls into the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with his team-best 5-2 record and 2.33 earned-run average.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
Approaching from the south on Highway 19, a sign erected in the 1960s greeted visitors to town, "Welcome to Cuba, No Castro."

Despite the denial, one characteristic citizens of the Crawford County community have with El Presidenté is a love for baseball -- an affinity enhanced recently by the success of the high school program.

"People in this town really love their teams and the kids," remarked Cuba head coach Kenny Hohe, who arrived seven years ago after two seasons at Braymer. "They really support the school and its programs."

Marshall fans will see that in the fresh look of the campus when they visit today to cheer on their club against the Wildcats in the MSHSAA Class 3 Sectional. It's only the second playoff appearance since the Owls' started playing ball in 1989, the first being in 2006, while Cuba is returning to the post-season after being knocked out at Boonville, 5-0, a year ago.

However, Hohe is quick to point out that this isn't the same club as last year's, having lost seven seniors and brought back only four lettermen.

"I don't know how much effect last year had on us so much as our playing early this year and giving us a chance to get better," Hohe explained.

After starting off 4-7, the Wildcats (16-9) have won eight of their last 10 games. That is much different than the season trajectory for Marshall (15-10), which won its first seven games and compiled a 9-1 record, but went 4-9 through the middle of the season.

One thing both clubs have in common is competitive fire.

"They will play to the final out. We'll battle," Hohe said. "We may not always play great defense or always have great at-bats, but we'll be close at the end."

Leading the way for Cuba has been sophomore shortstop-pitcher Ryan Bouse, who has compiled a 6-1 record and 2.75 earned-run average on the mound and a .433 batting average with a team-high two homers and 34 runs batted in.

Sophomore Taylor Thompson is 5-4 with a 1.16 ERA pitching and has a .386 average and 25 RBIs at the plate -- while sophomores Bryer Nash (.386), Cameron Williams (.357) and Brendan Wild (.348) have also enjoyed good seasons.

With only two senior starters, notching the program's first playoff win in five tries would be "a huge deal for our kids," Hohe admitted.

"They've talked about it all year," he noted. "Losing all those seniors, few people expected us to be competitive, much less win district."

The Owls and their fans, who also have never celebrated a sectional victory, can identify with those sentiments.

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...after doing 5 minutes of research, found that Marshall went to sectionals in '89, '91, '06, and this year. This is the 4th time in our history that we've advanced. Could I get an application for the Democrat News sports editor?

-- Posted by er on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 9:22 AM
Response by Chris Allen/Sports editor:
The criticism is accepted, and I'm kicking myself for trusting my faulty memory instead of taking the 15 seconds to check the record.

There are actually a couple of facts incorrect in this article. We started the baseball program in the spring of '88, not '89. In '89, we won our district and lost to Helias in the sectional- so this is actually the 3rd time Marshall has advanced this far (assuming there weren't others through the years that were missed by the reporter). At any rate, congratulations Owls!

-- Posted by er on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 9:09 AM
Response by Chris Allen/Sports editor:
Thank you for pointing that out. Marshall actually reached the playoffs in 1989, 1991, 2006, but did not win a sectional game. The Democrat-News regrets the error.

Nope, rather see what Cuba's coach has to say.

-- Posted by Tigers/Owls4Life96 on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 6:39 AM

I have yet to see a story about the 4 MHS NCMC all conference players or the 6 MHS all district players. How about reporting something good on the hometown boys?

-- Posted by LoveMHSBaseball on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 12:41 AM
Response by Chris Allen/Sports editor:
The all-NCMC team will be posted next week. As for reporting "something good on the hometown boys," have you not read any of the over two-dozen articles over the last two months on the Owls? Please, at least be fair. Is it so unacceptable that information be provided on the Owls opponent?

Great article in Cuba. Stellar.

-- Posted by Tigers/Owls4Life96 on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 12:28 AM

Is this the Marshall paper or Cuba's?

-- Posted by huh? on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 11:40 AM

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