CENTER POINT — After Cody Daily tossed another strikeout to end the sixth, Center Point coach Bubba Walters sported a smile as he trotted out of the dugout to high five his junior pitcher.
“Good pitching,” Walters told Daily.
The exchange may seem trivial, but Daily has been playing for Walters long enough to know that his coach doesn’t heap empty praise upon players. Every compliment Walters gives is sincere. So to Daily, those two words came as a high honor.
“That’s a big compliment coming from coach Walters,” said Daily, laughing.
It was also well-deserved. Daily didn’t pitch a perfect game on Tuesday, but came pretty close, striking out 15 batters and only permitting two base runners in seven scoreless innings during Center Point’s 6-0 win over Medina on senior night.
Daily’s gem also helped the Pirates earn a share of the District 29-2A title, tying Mason with a 9-1 record. The Pirates have now advanced to the playoffs for nine straight years, winning six district titles in that span.
“These kids get along,” Walters said. “They play hard; they play well and they don’t want to be the group that stops the (playoff) streak. I think that has a lot to do with it. … The kids were coming out here when they were little and saying, ‘I want to be like (former Pirate) Larry Leitha, I want to be like Kolby Kitchens.’
That’s a big key — they want to continue that legacy.”
The Pirates have sustained that legacy this season through dominant pitching,
possessing two pitchers (Kolten Kitchens and Daily) capable of mowing down opposing lineups (Both pitchers have helped Center Point average 9.3 strikeouts per game).
On Tuesday, it was Daily’s turn to show off his stuff. The velocity of his fastball peaks at 84 miles per hour, but possesses filthy movement. On Tuesday, he relied on his fastball to frame the plate, retiring the first 10 batters before allowing a base runner.
“He’s really consistent,” catcher Kitchens said. “He doesn’t miss a whole lot of pitches. When he does, he comes back with the
next pitch right where I want it.”
The Pirates’ only lingering concern entering the playoffs is hitting. They were good enough in that department on Tuesday. Kitchens tripled in the first to spark a two-run frame. Fernando Fuentes led off the fourth with a double, and Chris Geisen produced a single in the next at-bat. Austin Hander scored both with a single to stretch the Pirates’ advantage to 5-0.
Daily helped his own cause on the mound in the fifth by muscling a double to right field to cap the scoring.
With the way Daily was pitching, the Pirates didn’t have to rake at the plate. Still, Walters observed they are going to have to hit better when the playoffs arrive.
But the Pirates possess strong pitching entering the postseason, perhaps the strongest ingredient for a deep playoff run.
“Going into playoffs, we are a lot more confident this year than we were last year,” Kitchens said. “It should be a lot easier ride for us this year. In my opinion, we have the two best pitchers in the district. I’m sure we can carry us through the playoffs.”