Wildcats’ Gant sees fruits from hard work

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

April 18, 2008 - When people think of Wildcat senior first baseman Dustin Gant, they think of the word "dedication."

In two seasons as a varsity player and dealing with 6 a.m. workouts from mid-October until December under coach Jerrod Hammack, Gant made all but one of those workouts.

"I knew that I had to work hard because I was not one of those get up and hit a home run type of guys," Gant said. "I knew that I had to have commitment with the workouts and try and get that starting spot, and I just keep finding ways to show dedication."

With that kind of work ethic, Hammack said Dustin has played a major role in the success of the Wildcats this season.

"You know that you can count on him to be there, and he is a great defensive first baseman," Hammack said. "He has also gotten some timely hits this season and he has been a big part of our success."

While alternating with junior Mason Rawson at first base, Gant has shown his leadership to his fellow teammates by accepting his role on the team.

"I was more familiar with the position because I was on the team last year," said Gant in regard to playing first base. "I have been letting Mason know this year what players do and where to be and how to become a leader on the team."

Hammack said prior to the season, he told both players what would happen at first base, and Gant and Rawson have fought hard to keep the position.

"What we initially told both of them was that when the season started, Dustin was going to start the season at first since he had earned that spot," the coach said. "We were going to alternate them during the preseason and hopefully somebody would take over the position by district.

"Both of them have done everything that we have asked of them and their hitting has gotten better. We are pleased with the job that they have been doing, and we will continue to do that for the rest of the season."

After playing behind Colby Strain last year at first base and sharing the role with Mason this year, Dustin said he enjoys the playing time that he gets during the season.

"It is fine with me because at least I am getting playing time this year," he said. "Every game that I do good in, he (Mason) does good in so as long as we go out and do good, then I guess it is all right with me as long as the team wins."

With only three games remaining in the regular season heading into tonight's showdown with Paris, the Wildcats are sitting in second place at 6-1 in District 11-4A behind undefeated Texas High.

Gant said the way the team has picked up their play from the start of the season to now has been a totally different ball club.

"We are pretty good, and at the start of the year we did not have our chemistry right on the team," the senior said. "Once district started, we all kicked it up a notch and we are all happy and doing really good.

"I would like for us to keep doing what we are doing. I would like to see us make the playoffs and go as far as we can during my final year."

The son of Curt and Stacy Gant, Dustin plans on attending Paris Junior College in the fall in to pursue a degree in the medical field.

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