GODDARD, Kan.—The town of Goddard is no stranger to good baseball, and the sight of Tom Campa sending in the signals while coaching third base is nothing new either. But with the district splitting into two high schools, Goddard experienced its first civil war with Campa suited up in a road jersey that didn’t read, “Lions,” across the front.
“We tried to downplay it and say it’s just another game,” said Goddard head coach Steve Sheahon. “But deep down they wanted it.”
After the Lions smoked Eisenhower 13-3 in the first game, the Tigers showed some signs of a budding program and the kind of grit that will take the young rivalry to new heights in the years to come. But a complete-game shutout for Goddard pitcher Colton Turner gave the Lions the sweep in a 5-0 Game 2 victory.
In the second game, Bryce Minor took the hill for Eisenhower and cooled off the Goddard offense that had opened up to end the first game. After two scoreless innings, the Lions got on the board in the third with an RBI double from Collin Nevil to put Goddard on top 1-0.
Minor gave up the run, but minimized the damage, getting out of the inning before Goddard could put up a crooked number.
But unfortunately for the Tigers, Nevil and the Lions weren’t done. After plating a run on a wild pitch, and a 2-RBI double off the bat of Tanner Lanterman, Goddard went up 4-0 after four innings. In the fifth, Nevil picked up his second RBI on a two-out single to give the Lions a 5-0 lead.
“When you’ve got runners on base you don’t want to leave them out there,” said Nevil. “You’ve just got to come through and that really helps the team out.”
Goddard would like to have put a double-digit number in the runs column like in Game 1, but with Turner dealing on the mound, the 5 runs were plenty. Turner silenced the Eisenhower bats, going all seven innings without giving up a run and only allowing four hits. When the Tigers were able to put the ball in play, the Goddard defense was up to the task, getting the outs their pitcher gave them, finishing without an error.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” said Sheahon. “We practice it a lot, because of the new bats. The balls don’t carry as much. We play a little more shallow in the outfield and we took away some of their hits because of that. And we also have great team speed. We can run the bases, but it is also a great asset on defense, our speed.”
With the first chapter of all-Goddard baseball written, an early truth throughout the rest of the novel is clear.
“We are friends,” said Nevil, “but we are out there to compete.