High school baseball: Benton senior Scott getting used to new position when season suspended; Tigers off to 11-4 start

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Benton senior Cade Scott has played a variety of positions in his three-plus seasons as a member of the Tigers baseball team.

As a freshman, he started a playoff game at designated hitter. At one point during his sophomore season he was a starting left fielder. He’s also pitched.

Third base is where he’s played the most innings.

“He’s played almost every position on the field,” Benton head coach J.D. Stephens said.

So it’s no surprise that when Stephens needed a catcher after the departure of three-year starter Cole Horton to Northwestern State after last season, Scott stepped up. 

“The biggest spot for us to fill was catcher,” Stephens said. “And that’s one of those things where catching is a position you have to be committed to. And he wanted to do it. He basically said, ‘Coach, I’m gonna catch.’ And he’s done a great job with it. 

“He’s always been a great hitter, one of the best hitters I’ve been fortunate enough to be around. And he’s always been real athletic. He’s never really had a position because he was good enough at every position but not really a standout at every position either to the point where he’s caught on to catching very fast.”

Benton’s Cade Scott hits a home run during a playoff game last season. … Russell Hedges/Press-Tribune

Scott said he was making the adjustment to the new position well before the season was suspended on March 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was hard at first because I hadn’t caught in a few years but I got used to it and tried my best at it,” he said.

Of course, like other spring sports athletes around the state, Scott and his teammates are in a holding pattern. He is one of six seniors on the team along with Cade Paddy, Cameron Ross, Brennan Blaylock, Landon Joyner and Tanner Timms.

To help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, schools have been closed since March 16. Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he was going to extend his “stay-at-home” order to the end of April.

Bossier Parish schools had set a tentative re-opening date of April 14. While no official statement has been made, that won’t happen now.

LHSAA Commissioner Eddie Bonine told the Baton Rouge Advocate on Tuesday the extension of the “stay-at-home” option just means that the LHSAA’s process on deciding if and when the spring sports seasons will continue has also been extended.

Scott, a two-time first-team All-District 1-4A and All-Parish infielder, is maintaining a positive attitude. But he realizes that his senior might be over.

“It’s been rough because everybody looks forward to their senior year,” he said “But we didn’t get ours. We were hoping to end on a smile instead of it end with something like this. I’m hoping it will come back and I’m waiting for things to change.”

Stephens also remains optimistic.

“I have hope,” he said.  “ I feel like it’s going to be a unique end no matter how we end it. The LHSAA still stays in contact with all the head coaches. It looks like they’re trying to get everything on their end ironed out as far as making sure all the games have been put in that have already been played. It looks like on their end they haven’t shown any reason why we wouldn’t.

“Even if we come back with a modified schedule, I think there is still hope that we finish the year playing baseball.”

Benton was 11-4 when the season was suspended. After winning seven straight District 1-4A championships — and the 2018 4A state title — the Tigers were about to start testing themselves against District 1-5A competition for the first time.

Stephens said Scott was getting more comfortable at catcher just as the season was suspended.

“He was making extremely good progressions at that position on and off the field as far as pitch sequencing and all that stuff that goes into it that nobody kind of pays attention to,” he  said.

At the plate, Scott was simply continuing the success he has had throughout his high school career. In 62 plate appearances, he was batting .440 with four doubles, two triples, three home runs and a team-leading 20 RBI.

“Things have been going well,” said Scott, who has signed with Panola College. “I bought into Coach Stephens’ approach more than I have in the last three years. That made a big improvement.”

Scott also liked the way the Tigers were playing.

“We were doing real good in my opinion, but some games we would fall off,” he said. “But whenever our team was on nobody could have beat us.”

Stephens also was pleased with the team’s progress.

He especially wants his players to remember the last inning of the final game they played on March 14. Benton scored seven runs with no outs to rally for an 11-10 victory over New Diana, Texas.

“I’ve been proud of them in the midst of individualized baseball our kids have done a great job of playing team baseball,” he said. “The way we won our last game against New Diana was the definition of team baseball. Just had guys step up we were down six going into the last inning.

“It was just so much fun to watch. Give them all the credit. We took our walks. We got hit by pitches. We hit the ball backside. I mean just good team baseball, good atmosphere. Nobody panicked. Everybody believed that we were going to win.

“I really love where our team was headed. Hopefully we can kind of build off that when we come back.”

Stephens has kept in contact with Scott and the rest of the Tigers through group messaging.

“To be honest with you right now nothing about baseball,” he said. “Life-related and that’s it. Just kind of a quote here every day, a quote there, just to kind of at least stay in some form of contact with them.

“Right now baseball is taking a back seat which it should. It’s a chance for all of us to kind of reflect on what really is important.”

One thing Stephens hopes is that the senior student-athletes, not just on his team but around the state, are the focus as decisions are made that effect them most of all. He pointed out that the NCAA just granted an extra year of eligibility to its spring sports athletes.

“All those college seniors are getting a do-over if you will, but high school seniors don’t get that,” he said.  “So for the sake of them I hope we’re able to finish regardless of how it ends, for them to get out there and leave it all in the field because not every one of my seniors is going to play college baseball.”