|Higher Goals: Two Wildcats have big plans after high school|
|Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
April 27, 2004 -- Rahn Smith will have plenty of holes to fill next season, as nine seniors will be playing their final game Thursday night.
Adam Peugh and Colston Copeland may only be Wildcats for two more days, but they already have their sites set on the future.
Peugh and Copeland have served their roles well for SSHS and want to go out on a winning note with their final game looming on the horizon. Smith said they got the best out of the talent that was given them.
"Adam and Colston have both improved year by year," Smith said. "Adam has fit well into the leadoff spot and has done a good job of getting on base so our other guys can drive him in. Colston had to mature faster than a lot of kids, but he never complained and made the most out of the situations we put him in. He carries himself well and will go out and perform when he's given the opportunity."
Peugh will trade his blue and gold uniform for boot camp. He heads to Great Lakes, Ill. on Sept. 2 and will begin his quest to be a Navy airman. It's something he's always seen himself doing.
"I've always loved airplanes," Peugh said. "I've always seen the military as something for me. Some people want to be doctors, others lawyers, but this is what I need to do."
On the baseball field, Peugh has perhaps the toughest task as the team's leadoff hitter. His job is to get on base any way he knows how. The responsibility was thrown into his lap by Smith midway through district, when the coach felt some lineup changes needed to be made. Peugh said it took a while to grow into the role but that he feels he fits it well.
"I've gotten a lot more confidence leading off the more I've done it," Peugh said. "I feel I see better pitches in that situation."
Peugh, in his second year of varsity action, has responded with a team-high 22 hits and was hitting .300 entering last Friday's game against McKinney North. He's tied for second in doubles (5) and RBIs (10) and is tied for third in runs (11) while setting a firm foundation in left field.
Peugh set a personal goal of 20 stolen bases before the season began and got his team-leading nine rather quickly, but the base-stealing opportunities haven't occurred much during district, with the Wildcats often finding themselves in early holes.
He may be taking his final swings Thursday night, but Peugh doesn't want to force the issue. He said ending the season with a win is the most important thing.
"There will be no more pressure for me than normal, that's for sure," Peugh said. "We have one more to go and want to go out there and have our best game ever. My only regret is that we didn't give Coach Smith and Coach (Rustin) Ramsey a better season. I feel we let them down a little bit."
Excuse Peugh for not treating baseball as life or death, because he's got a whole new ballgame in store in five short months.
If anyone knows baseball is just a game, it's Copeland. The Wildcat outfielder suffered the worst tragedy any kid could endure, when his father was killed in an automobile accident. Copeland was only 10 years old at the time.
Baseball was his father's game, as Copeland played under him in his early years. The incident certainly made him grow up in a hurry.
"The game means so much more to me, because my dad loved it so much and got me involved in it," Copeland said. "I was only 10 years old, so of course it was all about winning at the time. Once he died, I realized how short life really is and that it's important to just go out there, play and not sweat the small stuff."
Copeland is also in his second year on the varsity team, but his role took a severe hit after injuring his shoulder during preseason practice. It put a damper on what he hoped was going to be a breakout senior year.
The injury forced Copeland into limited duty early in the season, but he gradually made his way back into the lineup. Smith put him in the outfield due to a logjam at first base. Copeland accepted the change, but his ultimate goal was never reached.
"I wanted to pitch, but those plans went out the window once I got hurt," Copeland said. "I didn't get to practice a lot, and some of the other guys got a jump on me."
Copeland bowls in his spare time and finished second in last year's high school program. He plans to attend Missouri Baptist Bible College in Springfield, major in Intercultural Studies and one day become a missionary.
"Losing my dad changed my life," Copeland said. "It was one reason I came to know Christ so well, and I know my dad is with him right now."
It should make even the biggest baseball purists stop and think about what is most important in their lives.