Perfection: Ripley Middle School baseball team finishes undefeated

Mark Martin
Ripley Middle School head baseball coach Duke Gandee gets a ceremonial ice water bath as the team finishes out a perfect season at 14-0.

The Ripley Middle School baseball team of 2021 was a bit defensive.

“The best stat that I like personally is that we outscored our opponents 119-21,” said head coach Duke Gandee. “Our defense was spectacular.”

But what Gandee’s crew did when out in the field is just part of the story which led to a perfect 14-0 season.

Jackson Curry batted .438 this season for Ripley Middle, collecting 10 singles, four doubles and three triples.

“He’s an amazing player that will be a freshman (at Ripley High next season),” Gandee said. “He was also 5-0 with 38 strikeouts on the mound.”

Bryson Casto, a sixth grader, was the team’s top hitter with a .469 batting average. Casto banged out 10 singles, three doubles and two triples. He struck out just once the entire season.

“He played an amazing shortstop/second base with three errors the whole season. He’ll be with the middle school for two more years,” Gandee said.

Kyler Doss, Brady McVay, Jackson Vanhoose, Eli Phalen and Cody Lawrence, all seventh graders, drew high praise from Gandee for their performances in the recent season. “They started every game,” the head coach said.

And the youngest players on the team certainly made an impression on Gandee.

“Our sixth graders improved a lot and will be contributing this coming year.”

Besides Curry, Ripley Middle will also be losing Peyton Sloan, the team’s starting catcher, and Garrett Brown, the starter at first base, along with Mason Lanham, Daven Rose and Jeremiah Franklin.

“We will miss our eighth graders who will move on to high school,” said Gandee, who was assisted this season by Ethan Koontz, Mike Lawrence and Cam Phalen. “We’ll be rooting for them in all of their future endeavors.”

Landon Meadows returns next season, “He did a great job pitching for us this year and he’ll be a big factor in our rotation next year.”

Others returning will be Quinton Campbell, Owen Pitts, Carson Boggess, Easton Haile, Wyatt Holley, Zac McCoy and Chris Patterson.