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Cougars fulfill the prophecy made by their coach

May 23, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

For Catoctin baseball coach Mike Franklin and all the Cougars who played in last year's Class 1A state championship game against Boonsboro, there are memories.

Memories of taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Memories of the Warriors answering with six momentum-changing runs in the bottom half. Memories of the next day's Herald-Mail newspaper, with photos and a boxscore of Boonsboro's 11-3 victory.

"I kept the newspaper article," Franklin said Tuesday after the Cougars' reached this year's final with a 5-2 victory over Elkton. "I pointed at the (boxscore) and I told the kids, 'We'll be back.'"

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After falling behind 2-0 early Tuesday, Catoctin dominated the rest of the way. After the final out, the Cougars reminded their leader of his promise.

"I didn't say anything all season," Franklin said, "but the first thing out of their mouths was, 'You said it, coach.'"

He said it, they did it, and to a man, they all believe this trip to the finals will be different.

"That's what he told us, and we're there fulfilling the prophecy," senior Justus Yocum said. "I think this year we will win it."

"We made a point after last year that we'd be back," said senior Chad Wolfe, who earned a complete-game win against Elkton. "If we play our game, we know we can beat anybody in the state."

"We're back, and we're taking the title," senior Danny Novak said. "There's no doubt at all."

Last year was a roller-coaster ride complete with heartbreaking losses and thrilling come-from-behind victories, culminating in a stunning and surprising run to the championship game - Catoctin's first as a baseball program.

This year, the Cougars fielded a senior-dominated team (there are six in Catoctin's starting lineup) and were at or near the top of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League standings all spring.

Success wasn't surprising anymore. It was expected.

"It's maturity, I think," Franklin said. "It's a group of kids maturing. These seniors have grown up with me together, and we've come a long way.

"They felt anything less than going back to the state championship game wasn't enough. They wanted it."

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