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GRC faces Mason County in first game of 10th Region Tournament

The 10th Region Tournament is officially underway as second-seed George Rogers Clark will face the one-seeded Royals of Mason County.

The Cards play the first game of the tournament at 10 a.m. on May 28 at Campbell County.

Mason County came out with a win in the 39th District Championship as they dismantled St. Patrick 13-1.

GRC earned the second seed after a home loss to Montgomery County 5-4 in the 40th District Championship.

Clark defeated Mason in the only regular season meeting between the two teams.

The Royals have racked up 10 wins in only 21 games while the Cards have recorded 21 wins in their 31 game schedule.

Head coach Matt Puckett said he likes his GRC team’s chances.

“It’s all about the draw and luck at the same time,” he said. “We are hoping to go in and take one game at a time and beat Mason. We beat them in the regular season so it is going to be a fight.”

Puckett admits his concerns with playing the earliest possible game in the most crucial time of year.

“I like our chances, but we play the 10 o’clock game. That means we have to get on the bus at around 7 a.m. Again, it is all about the luck of the draw. That is the only thing that did not go our way.”

Puckett feels like the way his team has been performing in practice is a confidence boost.

“We went on Friday evening and had a good practice,” he said. “It was a good defensive practice and we fielded a lot of ground balls. We took some batting practice, too.”

He said he is switching up Saturday’s practice routine and is looking forward to how his players will respond.

“We have some solid alumni coming in who is going to help give our team some batting practice,” Puckett said. “We are going to have them throw to us to make it as game-like as possible. At this time of year, you want to polish everything and go over situational plays. We are using this time off wisely and we are going to have a three hour practice on Saturday at 10 a.m. That is what time we play so we need to get these guys up and going. We are going to use every bit of time we have to get focused and win the region.”

Puckett is not worried about his team’s performance on a neutral field against a neutral team and said the better team always finds a way to win in the end.

“Our pitchers just have to stay around the zone,” he said. “The defense has got to make the routine plays. Of course you have to hit the baseball and when I say hit it I mean to put it in play. Make the other team and do not give them anything easy. We are focused on winning every inning. We are going inning by inning and we will do anything to get on base. Score runs and play some sound defense with some strikes and it should end in a good turnout for us hopefully.”

Puckett confessed that he is relying heavily on the pitching.

“We have got to get ahead of hitters,” he said. “We have to make teams put the ball in play and we want our defense to work. Free plays for the other teams and walks have haunted us a few times this year. We have had a few defensive miscues, but I still have faith in my defense. The hitters are seeing and hitting it well, too. You do not have to make ESPN Top 10 plays, just make the routine plays and everything else will fall into place.”

Puckett reflected back on how much he thinks the alumni will help his team and said loyalty and dedication like that is hard to find.

“We have some kids willing to come back and help out with the program. The past, present, future and everything else all matter. It is the GRC tradition and that has been going on longer than all of us have been around. We are thankful for these to come out. We are also going to work on bunt coverages, cut plays, and other things you take for granted in the game that nobody gets the gold stars for. We have to get down and dirty to get the job done.”