CRESTVIEW — Davidson Middle School’s baseball team won the Okaloosa County Middle School Class 2A Conference Championship last week.
The Panthers defeated the Ruckel Rams 8-6 to secure the victory. The game went to the top of the seventh inning tied at six before Davidson catcher Maddox Reeves doubled on the first pitch of his at-bat to score the go-ahead run.
“We played two pretty tough games against Shoal River leading up to the championship game and won both, so we were riding that momentum,” said Davidson coach, Daniel Richards. “They were determined and focus and knew they had a shot to win the game. They wanted to win for each other.”
Richards said he saw his team play hard and with a lot heart during the game.
“It was a team effort from top to bottom,” said Richards. “They all contributed in some way to help us win because each person did their job.”
Looking back at the game, Richards said he can think of three players who really made a difference.
Davidson’s starting pitcher, Brayden Ruschmeier, who had started against Ruckel twice before and did not get the win, finally got the win when it mattered the most.
“I had a lot of confidence in him and I knew if he pitched well and the team helped him, he could do it,” said Richards. “He pitched a great game and kept us in it.”
Rushmeier also hit a 2-run homerun in the second inning of the game.
Reeves, who hit the go-ahead double, also caught his coach’s attention.
“Maddox had a couple of timely hits that we really needed at certain times,” said Richards.
Sixth-grade pitcher, Kameron McCord, was another player who Richards said played exceptionally.
“He went out and finished the game for us,” said Richards. “He showed a lot of poise to go out there as a sixth grader against seventh and eighth graders and shut them out.”
Richards said seeing his team win the championship made him proud not only of them, but for them.
“We have worked hard all year,” said Richards. “They bought in to our process and they got the reward for all of their hard work.
“The history with Ruckel is they have been the team to beat for a long time and to go on a road trip down there and be underdogs, it was exciting to be a part of,” he added.
After the game, Richards could see the satisfaction on his players’ faces, including a few tears of joy.
“They knew they had put in the work and played their best and now they’re able to call themselves champions,” said Richards.